US firms plan 470,000 gal/yr cellulosic biobutanol project in Michigan

19 April 2011 16:34  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Cobalt Technologies and American Process plan to build a 470,000 gal/year (1.8m litres/year) industrial-scale cellulosic biorefinery to produce biobutanol for chemical markets, the US energy technology companies said on Tuesday.

The project – the first of its kind – will integrate California-based Cobalt’s continuous fermentation and distillation technology into a biorefinery that Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered American Process is building in Alpena, Michigan.

Ethanol production is expected to start at the plant in early 2012, with a switch to biobutanol in mid-2012, the companies added.

The Alpena refinery, partly funded by the US government, is a demonstration project which converts hemicelluloses – a group of compounds extracted from woody biomass – to fermentable sugars that can be used to produce ethanol. 

Cobalt’s technology will demonstrate that these sugars can also produce biobutanol, the companies said.

After the Alpena plant is completed, the companies expect to build multimillion-gallon biobutanol plants.

Biobutanol is an industrial chemical used in paints and other coatings. It is also used to make renewable jet fuel.

Visit Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals Blog for views on sustainability issues

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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