Cobalt Reaches Key Milestone In Biomass Pretreatment

By Chemical Processing Staff

Mar 21, 2012

Cobalt Technologies has reached a key milestone in its biomass pretreatment process, demonstrating the ability of its n-butanol technology to work efficiently at commercial scale. In cooperation with Andritz equipment, Cobalt tested its dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment process. According to the company, the demonstration represents the “first step” in its process of converting sugars into n-butanol for use as a renewable chemical or fuel.

Testing was conducted in the Andritz pulp and paper mill demonstration facility in Springfield, Ohio, which is specifically designed to validate new processes before commercial-scale implementation. Cobalt’s dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment process, which extracts sugars from ligno-cellulosic biomass, was validated on woody biomass, bagasse and agricultural residues. Using Andritz pulp processing equipment, Cobalt tested its pretreatment process on both a batch and continuous basis, demonstrating flexibility and efficiency.

The runs, while processing up to 20 bone-dry tons of biomass per day, successfully extracted sugars from the biomass without the use of enzymes to produce the desired liquid hydrolysate. It marked the first phase of Cobalt’s partnership with Rhodia in Brazil to develop bio n-butanol refineries throughout Latin America utilizing bagasse as a feedstock. Now, Cobalt will move on to demonstrate its advanced non-GMO strain performance at commercial scale. 

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