Cobalt Gears Up To Commercialize Biobutanol Technology

John Deere havester processing timber
Cobalt Technologies converts non-food feedstocks, beginning with waste wood, into biobutanol.
(cc) U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest

Cobalt Technologies, the leader in commercializing biobutanol as a renewable chemical and fuel, has signed an agreement with Fluor Corporation, one of the world’s largest publicly-owned engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance (EPCM) and project management companies. Under the agreement, Fluor will provide engineering consulting services as Cobalt gears up to commercialize its biobutanol production technology. Additionally, Fluor will offer a broad range of EPCM services for Cobalt’s demonstration and commercial-scale butanol production plants.

“We are very pleased to have Fluor as our strategic partner to help us design the most efficient, lowest cost system for producing our biobutanol,” said Rick Wilson, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Cobalt Technologies. “Fluor’s experience in designing and executing large projects, particularly refining projects, is unmatched in the world. We originally asked Fluor to provide an impartial analysis of our biobutanol production technology. Now, to have them sign a strategic agreement with us, truly validates our vision.”

By partnering with Fluor, Cobalt Technologies ensures that best-in-class design, procurement and construction principles are applied to the design and construction of its upcoming demonstration plant and to its commercial-scale plants.

“We have examined many different biofuels technologies, and are choosing to work with those companies that we believe have the greatest potential to be commercialized economically and to make a major impact on achievement of the nation’s alternative fuels goals,” said John Hopkins, group executive of business development at Fluor. “We believe Cobalt’s technology has great potential and are looking forward to helping them scale up rapidly.”

Cobalt’s technology converts non-food feedstock, such as forest waste and mill residues, into biobutanol. Cobalt’s continuous butanol production system is based on advancements in microbial strain selection, bioreactor design and process engineering, resulting in a highly productive, capital-efficient, low-cost solution. This engineering 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.

The company recently demonstrated the conversion of beetle-killed lodgepole pine into a low-carbon, sustainable biofuel and chemical, which is currently being tested in engines by Colorado State University’s renowned Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory.

Cobalt is backed by leading investors in the cleantech sector, including Pinnacle Ventures, Vantage Point Venture Partners, Burrill and Company, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, Life Science Partners (LSP), @Ventures, and Harris & Harris.

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, California.

Fluor Corporation designs, builds, and maintains many of the world’s most challenging and complex projects. Through its global network of offices on six continents, the company provides comprehensive capabilities and world-class expertise in the fields of engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance, and project management. Fluor is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

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