Cobalt’s bio-butanol from pine

Among my news roundup this week, I separated this one about biobutanol from Cobalt Technologies as it sounds really interesting.

Cobalt said it was able to create biobutanol fuel using beetle-killed lodgepole pine feedstock. The company signed a fuel testing deal with Colorado State University to test the butanol’s viability for commercial vehicles.

Mountain pine beetles are said to have been infecting nearly half of Colorado’s five million acres of pine forest. Millions of acres of lodgepole and ponderosa pines across the Western United States and Canada have also been infested, according to Cobalt.

Instead of leaving the dead trees as potential fire hazard, Cobalt said it could use them to make biobutanol. Half of the 2.3m acres affected in Colorado could produce over 2bn gallons of biobutanol — enough to blend into all the gasoline used in Colorado for six years, says Cobalt.

“Converting beetle-killed pine for biofuels is an extremely difficult process,” said Ken Reardon, professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University. “If Cobalt can convert beetle-killed wood, it’s likely that the company can make biofuel from almost any cellulosic feedstock.”

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