Rhodia joins to build biobutanol demonstration plant
Cobalt alliance will validate technology in Brazil
Following nine months of discussion, Rhodia has agreed to join the Californian bio-based chemicals firm Cobalt Technologies to build and operate a demonstration plant for bio-butanol at its sugar mills in Brazil. Work will begin this month and operations will move to a mill site in early 2013 for integration testing. Testing is expected to be completed by mid-2013.
This will validate Cobalt's technology with a view towards the construction of commercial-scale biorefineries using Cobalt's technology to convert bagasse and other local non-food feedstocks into bio n-butanol in Latin America. Butanol is a common industrial chemical that is used mainly in paints, adhesives, inks, and other solvents, with a global market of over $5 billion/year
Cobalt, which is backed by many specialised ‘cleantech’ investors, has developed bio n-butanol as a platform molecule for the production of fuels and chemicals, including jet fuel, bio-based plastics and synthetic rubber. CEO Bob Mayer said that the deal “puts us on a clear path towards commercialisation, which will result in the development of the first commercial-scale biorefinery using bagasse as a feedstock for the production of biobutanol”.
According to Rhodia’s Coatis business unit, this will offer a long-term cost advantage and a sustainable source for its Augeo range of biosourced solvents. Coatis develops oxygenated solvents and manufactures phenol-based products and derivatives and is the market leader in phenol and oxygenated solvents in Latin American.
Separately, Rhodia’s Aroma Performance business unit is to double capacity for the speciality fluorinated aliphatic derivatives triflic acid and triflic anhydride, plus lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide at its sites in France and China. The first stage is already under way and the first additional volumes will be available in September. This has come in response to the strong demand growth in electronic applications, such as anti-static applications for flat screens, ionic liquids and liquid crystals, pharmaceuticals and batteries for automobiles and computers.