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BP and DuPont’s Bio-Isobutanol Joint Venture, Butamax, Acquires Ethanol Facility in Kansas

Submitted by on April 3, 2017 – 3:47 pmNo Comment

(Biofuels International)  Butamax Advanced Biofuels, a 50/50 joint venture between BP and DuPont, has announced the acquisition of Nesika Energy and its ethanol facility in Scandia, Kansas. Butamax will now start engineering work to add bio-isobutanol capacity to the facility.

The Butamax Advanced Biofuels partnership between BP and DuPont combines expertise in fuels with industrial biotechnology, and aims to advance the commercialisation of Bio-Isobutanol.

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of the Nesika site and would like to welcome Nesika and its employees to Butamax,” said Stuart Thomas, Butamax CEO. “The Nesika facility will serve to demonstrate our technology at scale as well as validate process and biocatalyst improvements. Our plan is to broadly license our technology, and Nesika and the technology deployed at the site will play a key role in that activity.”  READ MORE and MORE (Biofuels Digest) and MORE (Butamax) and MORE (Ethanol Producer Magazine)


Excerpt from Biofuels Digest:  Butamax said at the time that it would take the lead role in developing the market for isobutanol as an on-road gasoline blendstock. This will include progressing ongoing programs to gain required EPA approvals for mainstream use of 16% isobutanol as a gasoline blend component. Butamax has also conducted joint research with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which has demonstrated that these blends can be used safely in fuel storage and dispensing equipment meeting current UL standards. It is expected that UL’s guidance will clear the way for state government agencies to consider and approve the dispensing of biobutanol-gasoline fuel blends in the U.S.

Butamax has been quick to point out the connection between the corn-oil separation project and an eventual conversion of the Lamberton plant to isobutanol production. The corn-oil separation technology is an integral part of a full retrofit to biobutanol production and can also be installed independently as a first phase of the conversion.

In this September 2016 Thought Leadership column by Jess Hewitt and Kapil S Lokare of Lee Enterprises Consulting, we looked at the prospects for isobutanol as a fuel.

Hewitt and Lokare wrote: “Isobutanol costs more than ethanol (negative) but has more power and can be used in less costly gasoline (positive). Unfortunately, the positives do not yet outweigh the negatives, so an Isobutanol-blended gasoline cannot be cost competitive with ethanol-blended gasoline. This is why almost all refiners dropped consideration of an Isobutanol-blended gasoline.

At the time they pegged that “Typically, butanol production costs are at $1.56/gal based on $1.80 per bushel corn feedstock cost. If the feedstock were raised to $3.35 per bushel, the estimated butanol cost would be $2.10/gal. Whilst the economy of fermentation route is more sensitive to the price of the substrate than butanol yield; it is estimated that the process will not be feasible if the yields are less than 25% w/w.”

Out there in the marketplace, Gevo is pursuing a comparable strategy of converting ethanol plants to isobutanol, but focused primarily on marine and jet fuels. Global Bioenergies is getting close to a commercial-scale deployment with isobutanol as one of its targets although more focused on isooctene. Intrexon is developing a technology to convert low-price natural gas to isobutanol, and is at pilot stage with that.  READ MORE

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