18 April 2011

Cobalt Technologies and American Process to Build World’s First Cellulosic Biobutanol Refinery

Companies agree to commercialize joint technology in biomass power industry

Cobalt Technologies, a leader in commercializing biobutanol as a renewable chemical and fuel, and American Process Inc. (API), a leader in development and commercialization of lignocellulosic sugar production and bioenergy process technologies, today announced an agreement to build the world’s first industrial-scale cellulosic biorefinery to produce biobutanol. Additionally, the companies agreed to jointly market a GreenPower+™ Biobutanol solution to biomass power facilities and other customers worldwide.

GreenPower+™ Biobutanol technology selectively converts part of a boiler cellulosic feedstock into renewable biobutanol, a valuable industrial chemical, widely used in paints and other coatings and a platform for production of renewable jet fuel and other valuable compounds.

Under the agreement, Cobalt Technologies and American Process will integrate Cobalt’s pending continuous fermentation and distillation technology into American Process’s Alpena Biorefinery, currently under construction in Alpena, Michigan. Slated to begin ethanol production in early 2012 with a switch to biobutanol in mid 2012, the API Alpena Biorefinery will produce 470,000 gallons of biobutanol annually, which will be pre-sold to chemical industry partners.

“We are excited to be partnering with American Process to commercialize our technology,” said Rick Wilson, Ph.D., and CEO of Cobalt Technologies. “The American Process Alpena Biorefinery plant gives us a great opportunity to demonstrate our technology at a commercial scale and provides an excellent model for how GreenPower+™ Biobutanol technology can add value to biomass power facilities. We expect to move quickly from running the Alpena plant to building multi-million gallon facilities.”

The Alpena Biorefinery
Funded in part by an $18 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and a $4 million grant from the State of Michigan, the API Alpena Biorefinery will demonstrate the conversion of hemicelluloses extracted from woody biomass, to fermentable sugars that can be used for production of ethanol. Meanwhile, Cobalt’s technology will demonstrate that these sugars can also produce butanol.

“This partnership will demonstrate that GreenPower+™ Biobutanol is an attractive value-added technology for biomass power projects worldwide,” said Theodora Retsina, Ph.D. and CEO of American Process. “At American Process, our focus has been the production of fermentable sugars from lignocelluloisc feedstocks and Cobalt’s participation in the Alpena plant validates that we are on the right track. Cobalt’s biobutanol technology is a perfect complement to our GreenPower+™ technology and we believe that the combination will appeal to customers.”

How it Works
GreenPower+™ is an API patent pending proprietary process for extracting hemicelluloses sugars from woody biomass using steam or hot water and converting them to fermentable sugars in a cost effective and technically robust process. The extracted biomass is returned- with consistent low moisture composition- to the biomass boiler for the production of steam and/or electricity – while sugars are converted to final bio-products. The process significantly increases overall profitability of the site by converting hemicelluloses into fermentable sugars, which can be converted to high value biofuels and biochemicals. The GreenPower+™ technology is applicable in any industry employing biomass boilers or having organic effluent.

Cobalt’s technology converts sugars from non-food feedstock, such as forest waste and mill residues, into biobutanol. Cobalt’s continuous butanol production system is based on advancements in biocatalyst selection, bioreactor design and process engineering, resulting in a highly productive, capital-efficient, low-cost solution. This foundation ensures the production process is able to scale up quickly while maintaining capital efficiency. Cobalt’s technology reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% versus the production of gasoline.

About Cobalt Technologies
Cobalt Technologies replaces petrochemicals and petroleum with a highly profitable and renewable alternative – biobutanol. The company’s technology and engineering platform offers a continuous process to efficiently convert diverse non-food feedstocks – beginning with waste wood – into biobutanol. Cobalt biobutanol is versatile and can be sold as is for use in paints, coatings and other chemical products; blended with gasoline, diesel and ethanol; or converted into bio-based plastics or full performance jet fuel and diesel. Engineered to achieve low costs through high productivity, energy efficiency and the use of low-cost feedstock, Cobalt is making biobutanol and its derivatives a cost effective substitute to petroleum-based materials.

Cobalt is based in Mountain View, CA. Cobalt is backed by leading investors in the cleantech sector, including Pinnacle Ventures, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Life Sciences Partners (LSP), Burrill and Company, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, @Ventures, and Harris & Harris.

About American Process
American Process is a leading biorefinery technology firm, focused on the development and commercialization of technologies for low cost production of fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. American Process’s biorefinery development activities started in 2005. Its two proprietary lignocellulosic sugar platforms, GreenPower+™ and AVAP™ , each position American Process as a strong technology partner for downstream converters in the emerging bioindustry. In addition to its biorefinery activities, American Process has world class expertise in the forest products industry, process design, process integration, engineering, project management and operations. American Process was founded in 1994 and serves a global customer base through its offices in Atlanta, Athens (Greece) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania).

Source: American Process Inc., press release, 2011-04-18.

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