Rhodia, Cobalt to build bio-butanol plant in Brazil

Bio-based chemicals firm Cobalt Technologies and specialty chemical company Rhodia, member of the Solvay Group, said Wednesday that they will soon develop and build a bio-butanol demonstration facility in Brazil.

The announcement is another step by the two companies toward the construction of commercial-scale bio-refineries using Cobalt's technology to convert Brazilian bagasse and other local non-food feedstock into bio n-butanol in Latin America, officials said.

Butanol is widely used as an industrial chemical found in paints, adhesives, inks, and other solvents.

“This agreement puts us on a clear path towards commercialization, which will result in the development of the first commercial-scale biorefinery using bagasse as a feedstock for the production of biobutanol,” said Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt .

“We are very pleased to be working with Rhodia. Our corporate values and goals are aligned and Rhodia's experience in the global chemical markets and long history of success in Latin America position us well for success.”

Under the deal, Cobalt and Rhodia will build and operate a biobutanol demonstration plant. Work will begin in August 2012 and will move to a mill site in early 2013 for integration testing.

Operational testing at the demonstration plant is expected to be completed by mid-2013.

“We are convinced that Cobalt's technology will provide an unmatched cost advantage over the long term, while also enhancing our sustainable development strategy related to our Augeo range of bio-sourced solvents," said Vincent Kamel, president of Rhodia Coatis business unit.

“We look forward to our continued partnership, working closely with Cobalt to capitalize on the massive market opportunity for bio n-butanol in Latin American and beyond.”

Over the past nine months, the two companies explored options for integrating Cobalt's technology into existing sugar mills, they said.

The feasibility phase confirmed the scalability and attractive economics of Cobalt's biomass processing and advanced fermentation technology, according to company officials, as well as its viability to work with Brazil's local biomass.

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