Rhodia, a specialty chemical company, and Cobalt Technologies, a leading developer of next generation biofuels, today announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding setting the basis for a strategic alliance to develop bio n-butanol refineries throughout Latin America.
Under the terms of this alliance, Cobalt and Rhodia will with proceed a technical feasibility study. Upon the success of this first step, the partners will jointly develop a pilot demonstration plant deploying Cobalt’s technology for the conversion of sugar cane bagasse and other non-food cellulosic feedstocks into n-butanol for the chemicals and fuels market.
The parties’ intend in the medium term the construction of multiple bio-refineries co-located with sugar mills, firstly in Brazil to demonstrate Cobalt’s technology on local and competitive feedstock. Subsequently, the proven technology will be extended to other Latin American countries.
“This relationship establishes a clear path to commercialization for our technology,” said Rick Wilson, Ph.D., and CEO of Cobalt Technologies. “Rhodia is the perfect partner for expansion into Brazil and Latin America. They have a long history of successful operations in Brazil and have significant experience in sugar mill operations through their ownership of a bagasse-based power plant co-located with a sugar mill. Additionally, Rhodia is a renowned global chemical company, providing us a unique opportunity to market our products internationally through our partnership.”
“Bio n-butanol based on bagasse will enlarge our Augeo® range of biosourced solvents and perfectly fits with Rhodia’s sustainable development strategy. We are convinced that Cobalt’s bagasse-based leading-edge technology will provide an unmatched cost advantage over the long term,” said Vincent Kamel, president of Rhodia Coatis Business Unit. “There is undoubtedly a huge potential for bio n-butanol in Latin America and beyond and we are looking forward to building a large international business with Cobalt.”
About Cobalt Technologies
Cobalt Technologies is developing and commercializing technology for the production of low cost biobutanol, a platform molecule for the production of renewable chemicals and fuels. The company’s technology platform offers a continuous process to efficiently convert diverse non-food feedstocks into biobutanol. Engineered to achieve low costs through its proprietary biocatalyst, advanced bioreactor and energy efficient design, and the use of low-cost feedstock, Cobalt is making biobutanol and its derivatives a cost effective substitute to petroleum-based chemical products.
Cobalt is the leading company in commercializing technology for production of n-butanol from cellulosic feedstocks. N-butanol is a widely used industrial chemical found in paints, lacquers and other surface coatings, with a global market of over $5 billion, approximately eight times the size of the market for isobutanol. By producing low-cost biobutanol, Cobalt’s unique technology enables the use of butanol as a platform molecule for application in a broad array of chemical markets, including the plastics and synthetic rubber markets. Cobalt’s low-cost platform also enables fuels production such as jet fuel, where, Cobalt and the U.S. Navy have jointly developed technology to convert Cobalt’s n-butanol into full performance jet fuel and are on track to achieve fuel certification.
Cobalt is based in Mountain View, CA. Cobalt is backed by leading investors in the cleantech sector, including Pinnacle Ventures, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, Burrill and Company VantagePoint Capital Partners, Parsons & Whittemore, Life Sciences Partners (LSP), @Ventures, and Harris & Harris.
Rhodia, member of the Solvay group, is a specialty chemical company resolutely committed to sustainable development. As a leader in its businesses, the Group aims to improve its customers’ performance through the pursuit of operational excellence and its ability to innovate. Structured around 11 Global Business Units, Rhodia is the partner of major players in the automotive, electronics, flavors and fragrances, health, personal and home care markets, consumer goods and industrial markets. Rhodia employs around 14 000 people worldwide and generated sales of €5.23 billion in 2010.
Coatis a Rhodia Global Business Unit develops oxygenated solvents and manufactures phenol-based products and derivatives specifically for the worldwide market.
Augeo ® is a trademark of Rhodia Co.
Source: Rhodia, press release, 2011-10-19.