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California Company Developing Renewable Biobutanol Fuel from Beetle-Killed Pine

Cobalt Technologies has signed a fuel testing partnership with Colorado State University to evaluate the viabi...


April 9, 2010
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Cobalt Technologies has signed a fuel testing partnership with Colorado State University to evaluate the viability of its biobutanol as a fuel for commercial vehicles. Cobalt is able to produce biobutanol from beetle-killed lodgepole pine feedstock. It says the material is a drop-in replacement for petroleum and petrochemicals.
“With this breakthrough, we’ve been able to turn a problem into an opportunity,” said Rick Wilson, Ph.D., CEO of Cobalt Technologies. “Harvesting beetle-killed trees could produce low-carbon fuels and chemicals, establish a foundation for a sustainable biorefinery industry and create jobs, particularly in rural areas.”
Cobalt Technologies converts non-food feedstock, such as forest waste and mill residues into n-butanol, a versatile product which, according to the company, can be used as a drop-in biofuel to be blended with gasoline, diesel and ethanol; converted into jet fuel or plastics; or sold as is for use in paints, cleaners, adhesives and flavorings.
“Clearly, this is a significant achievement and a major step forward toward the production of cellulosic biofuels. 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.”
Cobalt Technologies has partnered with Colorado State University to perform engine testing with a gasoline-butanol blend made with the biobutanol from beetle-killed wood.