Bibutanol Replacing Bioethanol

Bibutanol Replacing Bioethanol Image
Back in 2010, the New York Times profiled 3 companies that were moving to retrofit bioethanol plants, converting them to produce a much superior biofuel -- bio-butanol. Now in 2012, the three firms -- Cobalt Technologies, Gevo, and Butamax (a joint venture of BP and DuPont) -- are pressing ahead with their plans to make bio-butanol the new king of the biofuels.Cobalt Technologies recently announced a deal between the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) and the company Albemarle to produce a jet fuel from biobutanol.

Butanol does hold some advantages over other alternative fuels. It's heavier than traditional ethanol and more similar to gasoline, making it over 30 percent more efficient than ethanol. California-based Cobalt Technologies has claimed that by producing the bio n-butanol with non-food feedstocks it is making some of the cheapest and most efficient biofuel on the market. And because biobutanol doesn't mix well with water-something ethanol does do-the product can be interchanged very easily with traditional oil products in pipelines and refineries, Jack Huttner, executive vice president for corporate development of Gevo, another biobutanol company, told ClimateWire in January 2010.

Cobalt has decided to forego food crops in production and instead uses cellulosic feedstock from wood waste" continues retrofitting corn ethanol plants to biobutanol plants. But Gevo is aiming first for the lucrative chemicals market, with its butanol product. By generating early profits in this way, Gevo is hoping to improve and scale its technology so as to compete head to head with petro-fuels in just a few years.

Butamax -- the joint venture of BP and DuPont -- may be ready to break out of the pack soon. The venture has entered into a collaboration with Fagen -- a heavyweight biofuels engineering firm -- to move rapidly into the ethanol to butanol retrofit game.Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC, a joint venture between BP and DuPont, has entered into collaboration with Fagen, Inc. for the introduction of commercial biobutanol production using Butamax technology.

Fagen is an experienced biofuels engineering, procurement and construction contractor, having built more ethanol capacity than any other company. It has built more than 85 ethanol plants totaling approximately 6 billion gallons of annual production.

The company announced last December the formation of the Early Adopters Group (EAG), a consortium of biofuel production companies interested in becoming early adopters of Butamax biobutanol technology. In addition, piloting work continues at the Butamax Technology Demonstration facility as the company prepares for market entry with commercial production in 2014. It is likely that Butamax will enter the chemicals market prior to the fuels market, for economic reasons, and due to its connection to DuPont. Bio-butanol is also likely to be used as a fuel additive for both diesel and gasoline, before it is forced to compete as a drop-in replacement for gasoline.

Source: [GCC]