Biobutanol: Most Overlooked Biofuels Story #2

July 27, 2010 |

When biobutanol technologies first began announcing progress in developing pilot scale-plants, the reaction of most readers was “Huh?”.

Though the international selector panel was voting companies like Gevo and Cobalt Technologies to exalted levels in the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy, paltry reader support kept both companies out of the Top 10 in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Lately, readers have been less apt to overlook biobutanol’s potential as a featured product from new advanced, integrated bioenergy plants, or as a bolt-on conversion technology to transform corn ethanol capacity to corn biobutanol capacity.

The allure? For integrated biorefineries, the attractions of high-value chemicals made from a base of n-butanol. At corn ethanol plants, the opportunity to make 80 Mgy of biobutanol using the same feedstocks as 100 Mgy of corn ethanol.

With the potential of lower costs for storage and transportation (and a smaller carbon footprint), while taking advantage of biobutanol’s friendlier drop-in characteristics, including the fact that it can be blended today at 16 percent, vs. 10 percent for ethanol.

14 bgy of US corn ethanol capacity would drop to 11 Bgy, and the blend wall would move from 13 Bgy to 20.8 Bgy. That’s attractive math.

Eventually readers caught on – so that while a portrait of Butamax was generally overlooked, a June article on changing the blend wall debate with biobutanol received a far higher readership.

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Category: News Analysis, Producer News

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