Gevo vs Butamax: Biofuels’ Montagues and Capulets race for scale with new agreements

June 26, 2012 |

Gevo and Butamax expand, and expand some more. Who’s ahead in the race for biobutanol supremacy?

The Latest from Gevo

In Colorado, Gevo announced completion of their preliminary evaluation of technical feasibility under a collaboration with BioFuel Energy, designed to explore high-volume production of isobutanol. The companies plan to continue working to develop large-scale production of isobutanol at an existing or future BioFuel plant.

Specific objectives include a more rigorous assessment of technical feasibility and the development of timelines for engineering, regulatory approvals, financing and construction.

The two companies will also explore the potential for seeking Advanced Biofuel status for isobutanol, which would allow domestic corn-based biofuels to compete more directly with biodiesel and imported ethanol produced from sugarcane.

BiofuelEnergy operates two 110 MGPY ethanol production facilities in Fairmont, Minn. and Wood River, Neb.

Gevo recently began the start up of its first commercial-scale isobutanol plant in Luverne, Minn. with plans for another startup in 2013 at its Redfield, SD joint venture.

“The capacity of BioFuel’s plants would allow us to begin delivering isobutanol at the scale that refinery customers are likely to demand,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “We have the potential to be at the forefront of the Advanced Biofuel market. BioFuel Energy recognizes this potential and has agreed to explore a possible retrofit of their assets to produce isobutanol.”

“Our philosophy has always been to actively explore emerging biofuel technologies, particularly those with the potential to transform our industry,” said Scott Pearce, CEO of BioFuel Energy. “Building on our initial work together over the past several months, we believe that collaborating with Gevo makes a lot of sense as a potential avenue to becoming a leader in second-generation biofuels.”

The Gevo group of facilities now includes:

Biofuel Energy – Fairmont, Minnesota
Biofuel Energy – Wood River, Nebraska
Redfield Energy – Redfield, South Dakota
Gevo – Luverne, Minnesota
Malaysian Biotechnology project (unnamed) – Terengganu state, Malaysia

The Latest from Butamax

Meanwhile, in Delaware, Butamax Advanced Biofuels announced that its Early Adopters Group has expanded with the addition of Big River Resources, bringing ethanol capacity of the collective EAG to nearly 900 million gallons a year at 11 facilities.

Big River Resources began producing ethanol in 2004 and has the capacity to produce approximately 400 million gallons of ethanol per year. The company owns four separate ethanol production facilities in three states and employs 230 people.

“Last December, we announced our EAG with the intention of building a membership representing half a billion gallons of production capacity by early 2013,” said Butamax CEO Paul Beckwith. “We are pleased that the strong interest in Butamax technology has resulted in significantly exceeding that target nearly a year ahead of schedule.”

The Butamax Early Adopters Group now includes:

Big River Resources of Illinois, Iowa, & Wisconsin
Corn, LP of Goldfield, Iowa
Granite Falls Energy LLC of Granite Falls, MN
Highwater Ethanol of Lamberton, MN
Lincolnway Energy of Nevada, Iowa
Little Sioux Corn Processors of Marcus, Iowa
Platinum Ethanol LLC of Arthur, Iowa
Siouxland Ethanol of Jackson, Nebraska

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