Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Butanol producers target biofuels market

11:50 PM, Nov. 12, 2011

Company to convert Redfield plant from ethanol, produce 38M gallons

Written by Philip Brasher

Butanol vs. ethanol
A comparison of butanol and ethanol, two alcohols made from the same feedstock that both can be gasoline additives:

Ethanol advantages
Cost: Cheaper to produce than butanol
Octane: Higher octane than butanol
Regulations: The Clean Air Act allows some exemptions to emissions limits for ethanol

Butanol advantages
Mileage: Ethanol has two-thirds the energy content of gasoline; butanol has 82 percent
Flexibility: Can be converted to diesel or jet fuel or used as a building block to make synthetic rubber or solvents
Less corrosive: Won’t damage pipelines, boat engines or power equipment.

WASHINGTON — A new biofuel under development lacks many of the drawbacks of corn ethanol. The fuel, known as butanol, can be used in existing pipelines and fuel pumps and cars get better mileage on the product than they do on ethanol.

A top official with the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates motor fuels, told lawmakers recently butanol is one of the nation’s “most promising biofuels.” However, the product faces potential government barriers that provide an advantage to ethanol, according to companies that plan to make the product.

The hurdles include a special exemption in air pollution laws that smoothed the way for ethanol to be used as an additive in gasoline.

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