Butanol Backers Push Retrofit Effort as Ethanol Boom Fades
by Nicholas Zeman (Engineering News-Record) As U.S. subsidies for ethanol continue to disappear, retrofit installations to produce butanol—touted as a superior fuel with superior financial incentives—are catching on at plants, says butanol technology provider Butamax, the joint venture between BP and DuPont Chemical.
Butamax CEO Paul Beckwith says his company already has signed up eight ethanol plants—representing 900 million gallons per year of production capacity—to retrofit for butanol production. The company says it can perform the installation at about $1 per gallon of a plant’s initial production capacity, or $900 million in new construction activity. “Having these plants in our ‘early adopters group’ gives validity to the business going forward,” Beckwith says.
The ethanol build-out spawned robust construction over the past decade. However, following the expiration of the industry tax credit and rising corn prices, at least eight plants have shut down since June. Today, ethanol companies are looking to new technologies to leverage existing assets, even if it means adding capital costs and new construction. READ MORE