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Cobalt Technologies Hits Key Commercial Milestone with Pretreatment Process Demonstration
Date:3/7/2012

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Cobalt Technologies, a leading developer of next generation n-butanol, announced the achievement of major progress toward commercial scale by successfully demonstrating its biomass pretreatment process. Cobalt in cooperation with ANDRITZ, a globally leading supplier of technologies, equipment and plants for the pulp and paper industry, tested its dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment process, the first step of Cobalt's process for converting sugars into n-butanol for use as a renewable chemical or fuel.

"Demonstrating our high-yield pretreatment process is a key milestone for Cobalt as we prove that our n-butanol technology will efficiently work at commercial scale and at an attractive low cost," said Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt Technologies. "This is a very exciting time at Cobalt as we continue our path to commercialization and deepen our relationships with key partners."

Cobalt conducted the testing in the ANDRITZ pulp and paper mill demonstration facility in Springfield, OH, which is specifically designed to validate new processes before commercial-scale implementation. Cobalt's dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment process, which extracts sugars from ligno-cellulosic biomass, was validated on woody biomass, bagasse and agricultural residues.

"We have extensive experience and expertise in process know-how and technologies for biomass processing and were eager to work with Cobalt on this project," said Bertil Stromberg, vice president of biofuel for ANDRITZ.

Using ANDRITZ's proven pulp processing equipment, Cobalt tested its pre-treatment process on both a batch and continuous basis, proving both its flexibility and efficiency for potential customers. These runs, while processing up to 20 bone-dry tons of biomass per day, successfully extracted sugars from the biomass without the use of enzymes to produce the desired liquid hydrolysate – a liquid-based sugar that is then converted into n-butanol.

"The hydrolysates produced at ANDRITZ's demonstration facility have been fermented successfully at our facility in Mountain View, California without the need of any conditioning to remove inhibitory compounds," said Mayer. "By proving we can meet, and in some areas, exceed our commercial targets and cost metrics at this scale, we are now well positioned to leverage this critical milestone to support our on-going commercialization efforts."

This milestone not only proves the ability of Cobalt's pretreatment process to scale-up, it also marks the first phase of Cobalt's partnership with specialty chemical company, Rhodia in Brazil to develop bio n-butanol refineries throughout Latin America utilizing bagasse as a feedstock.   

With the completion of the pretreatment demonstration trials, Cobalt will now move on to demonstrate its advanced non-GMO strain performance at commercial scale. 

About Cobalt Technologies
Cobalt Technologies is a leader in commercializing the production of bio n-butanol as a renewable chemical and fuel.  N-butanol is a widely used industrial chemical found in paints, lacquers and other surface coatings, with a global market of over $5 billion.  By producing low-cost bio n-butanol, Cobalt's unique technology enables the use of n-butanol as a platform molecule for the production of a broad array of fuels and chemicals, including jet fuel, bio-based plastics and synthetic rubber.  Cobalt's technology platform offers a continuous process to efficiently convert diverse non-food feedstocks into biobutanol.  Engineered to achieve low costs through its proprietary biocatalyst, advanced bioreactor and energy efficient design and the use of low-cost feedstock, Cobalt is making biobutanol and its derivatives a cost-effective substitute to petroleum-based chemical products.

Cobalt is based in Mountain View, Calif. Cobalt is backed by leading investors in the cleantech sector, including Pinnacle Ventures, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Parsons & Whittemore, Life Sciences Partners (LSP), @Ventures, Harris & Harris and Burrill and Company. For more information, please visit www.cobalttech.com.

About ANDRITZ Group
The ANDRITZ GROUP is a globally leading supplier of plants and services for the hydropower, pulp and paper, metals, and other specialized industries (solid/liquid separation, feed, and biofuel). The Group is headquartered in Graz, Austria, and has a staff of approximately 16,700 employees worldwide. ANDRITZ operates over 180 production sites, service and sales companies all around the world. For more information, please visit www.andritz.com.


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