LS9 expands demo plant operations with successful customer trial

By LS9 Inc. | April 17, 2013

LS9 Inc. announced the expansion of its operations at the company’s Okeechobee, Fla., demonstration facility with a successful customer trial. The Florida facility was initially designed, and has been used, to scale-up LS9’s fermentation technology and generate large commercial samples for testing and product qualification by key partners and prospective customers. Since the company’s initial run at the 135,000-liter (35,663 gallons) scale in the third quarter of last year, LS9 has made several additional fatty alcohol runs of this size as well as smaller production runs of fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel).

In addition, LS9 has successfully completed a pilot production run at its Florida plant for another advanced bioproducts company, Cobalt Technologies. Fermentation scale-up is an expensive proposition and requires the proper facilities and expertise to make an effective run. The need to run trials is also intermittent so it is not cost-effective for many companies in the industry to make the investment in a larger plant. LS9’s Florida demonstration plant was designed to manage a multitude of processes, and with this successful customer run, LS9 has proven it can leverage its state-of-the-art facility and the expertise of its operations staff to work with partners to commercialize renewable products. Given the success of the initial production run, Cobalt is considering future work at LS9’s Florida facility.

“The capability to transition from the lab to 135,000-liter scale is a key milestone on our road to commercial success, and we know we are not alone in this requirement,” said Tjerk de Ruiter, president and CEO of LS9. “Our ability to support other companies’ technology scale-up activities is not only an example of the flexibility and the capabilities of our team, it is also an excellent example of how, as an industry, we can work together to make a renewable future a reality. This new revenue source, together with a recent $6 million investment from our current investors, positions LS9 to enter into new partnerships with our technology and advance our own products.”

Cobalt Technologies is 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 bio n-butanol as a platform molecule for the production of a broad array of fuels and chemicals, including jet fuel, biobased plastics and synthetic rubber. Cobalt’s technology platform offers a continuous process to efficiently convert diverse nonfood feedstocks into biobutanol. Engineered to achieve low costs through its proprietary biocatalyst, advanced bioreactor, 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, @Ventures, Harris & Harris, Burrill and Company and strategic investors including Bunge Global Innovation LLC.

In 2010, LS9 was awarded the U.S. EPA’s highest environmental honor for its technology. The company’s investors include Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Chevron Technology Ventures and BlackRock. LS9 is headquartered in South San Francisco, Calif. 

 

 
 
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