NMMA Endorses Use of Gevo’s Isobutanol in Marine Fuel Market
(Gevo/Biomass Magazine) Gevo Inc. has received a key endorsement for the use of its renewable isobutanol by the marine industry, following support and recommendation for the use of isobutanol by the National Marine Manufacturers Association as an effective, less damaging, more suitable biofuel alternative than ethanol for powering various types of marine and recreational boat engines.
Over the last five years, the NMMA has worked together with Gevo, the U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, the U.S. Coast Guard and others on the testing of isobutanol in a variety of marine engines. During this time, the NMMA has gathered a great amount of data supporting the viability of isobutanol as the preferred renewable fuel blendstock for gasoline-powered marine engines. READ MORE and MORE (Butamax/GlobeNewswire) and MORE (Chron) and MORE (Green Car Congress)
Excerpts from Chron: … They have a new option in the later case, albeit one currently with limited but expanding availability and a significantly higher cost, in a fuel that replaces ethanol with isobutanol. The Houston area and a handful of other spots in Texas are scheduled to see that fuel – Gulf Marine fuel – become available over the coming months. More on that in a moment.
That there is a market for such alternatives, even at a considerably higher price, speaks to the problems associated with ethanol/gas blends and the specter that fuels with even higher percentages of ethanol are coming as federal rules mandating increasing volume of “renewable fuels” – so-called biofuels such as ethanol, produced in this country almost exclusively from corn -be used in the nation’s fuel supply.
Ethanol-free unleaded gasoline remains available in some areas, mostly in smaller towns and, not surprisingly, at marinas. And there’s even a website – pure-gas.org – dedicated to listing businesses selling “E0” gasoline. But supplies are increasingly limited and cost per gallon is as much as $2 higher than E10 gasoline; pushed by economics and federal regulations, refineries have almost wholly ceased producing and shipping ethanol-free gasoline.
For those using small quantities of fuel, quart containers of ethanol-free gas are sold in many businesses aimed at owners of lawn mowers and other equipment powered by small engines. But the “pure” gas comes at a steep price, about $6 a quart – far too expensive to use in even a mid-size outboard.
“One huge thing is it’s not hygroscopic like ethanol, so you don’t have the problems with moisture and phase separation,” said Jess Hewitt of Gulf Racing Fuels which is marketing a pair of gasoline/isobutanol blends under the Gulf Marine brand.
The “biobutanol” also packs a bigger energy punch – isobutanol produces 85 percent of the energy of the same amount of gasoline while ethanol yields 65 percent.
Gulf Racing Fuel uses corn-based isobutanol produced at a refinery in Minnesota for its Marine brand of fuels aimed at boaters and owners of ATVs or small-engine equipment. Gulf rolled out the products – 93-octane and 100-octane – in 5-gallon and 55-gallon containers.
The biobutanol blend has been available at a handful of locations in Texas for several months, but plans are to steadily expand distribution over coming months. The 5-gallon containers will begin showing up in Houston-area businesses selling Gulf gasoline, with stations in Dallas and Austin to soon follow, Hewitt said.
Within the year, some Gulf stations could have pumps dedicated the isobutanol/gasoline blend, he added. At $4.50-$5 per gallon, the biobutanol/gas blend isn’t cheap. But neither is rebuilding an outboard’s carburetors. READ MORE