Butamax is a fully resourced and committed biofuel company providing the technology to cost-effectively produce biobutanol for the long term. Butamax’s rigorous technology development and its commercialization strategy ensure competitive positioning in the automotive fuels sector and other industries. We are developing a comprehensive licensing package that will supply current ethanol operations with new technology enabling the production of biobutanol. We are also developing refining customers for biobutanol, and will offer a secure, high-value market for biobutanol produced with the technology. In addition, we’ll provide a full range of services to enable successful ethanol plant retrofits, including ongoing consultancy and technical support.
In 2011, Butamax announced the formation of the Early Adopters Group (EAG) and named the biofuel company Highwater Ethanol as the founding member. The Early Adopters Group is designed as a collaborative effort among leading biofuel production facilities to introduce biobutanol to the market and match production volumes to demand. Currently, the Early Adopters Group consists of seven companies representing 10 facilities and nearly 750 million gallons per year in production volume.
Partnering with Early Adopters Group members, Butamax is launching commercial production of biobutanol in the United States. On October 2, 2013, Butamax announced that we had begun Phase 1 of a retrofit of Highwater Ethanol’s plant in Lamberton, Minnesota for the production of biobutanol. The cutting-edge separation technology package includes a novel corn oil removal system and is an integral part of a full retrofit to biobutanol production. Construction is now complete and the facility is in full operation. After the successful operation of the first facility, Butamax will begin retrofitting multiple facilities simultaneously to match production to market demand.
In addition to industry partnerships, Butamax leverages the capabilities of its shareholders BP and DuPont, two world-class industrial and biotechnology companies.
Biobutanol is an alcohol that can be produced from biomass (renewable, organic material). Biobutanol can be used as biofuel to fuel cars and other vehicles. It is generally blended with gasoline. Biobutanol can also be used alongside ethanol to help improve ethanol’s performance in a gasoline blend.
Biobutanol can be made from many types of biomass. Potential feedstocks include corn, wheat, sugar cane, sugar beet and, in the future, non-food lignocellulosic materials.
How is biobutanol different from ethanol?
Biobutanol has several characteristics which make it an attractive biofuel component. These include:
- Biobutanol has an energy content closer to that of gasoline, compared with ethanol, so consumers face less of a compromise on fuel economy. This is particularly important as the amount of biofuel in the fuel blend increases.
- It has a low vapor pressure meaning it can be easily added to conventional gasoline.
- Biobutanol does not require automakers to compromise on performance to meet environmental regulations.
- It can be used in higher blend concentrations than ethanol without requiring especially adapted vehicles.
- Fuel specifications in the US, for example, allow biobutanol to be blended to 16% by volume versus 10% by volume for ethanol, without risking any compromise on performance, durability, fuel economy or emissions. We believe that blend limits for biobutanol to be used in existing vehicles may be even higher.
- Combined with biobutanol's higher energy content than bioethanol, a 16% by volume biobutanol blend offers consumers the same fuel economy as a 10% by volume bioethanol blend while providing double the energy from renewable sources.
- Biobutanol/gasoline blends are less susceptible to separation in the presence of water than ethanol/gasoline blends. This allows biobutanol to use the industry's existing distribution infrastructure without requiring modifications in blending facilities, storage tanks or retail station pumps.
- Environment Footprint: Biobutanol's chemical properties already allow it to be blended at 16% by volume in gasoline, thereby displacing more gasoline per gallon of fuel consumed than the standard 10% by volume ethanol blend. The 16% by volume biobutanol blend also has the potential to reduce GHG emissions further than the 10% by volume ethanol blend, given similar biorefinery site and process specific conditions. Lifecycle analysis is used alongside process development and economic evaluation to guide the research and development team to the most sustainable biobutanol design.
When will biobutanol become a component in fuels on sale to consumers?
Butamax Advanced Biofuels will be developing the technology to produce biobutanol to a point where it is cost-competitive with ethanol. When the technology is commercial, the component will be available to be blended into fuels. As biobutanol has significant advantages over ethanol, we expect there will be a significant market demand for biobutanol.
Butamax Advanced Biofuels will bring to market biobutanol technology. Biobutanol is a new kind of biofuel that has many benefits over ethanol – the biofuel that is blended with gasoline today.
BP and DuPont, who are the partners behind Butamax Advanced Biofuels, have been developing biobutanol technology for several years.
In the near term, the main focus of the new company will be to develop a technology program to produce biobutanol from many different types of feedstocks. In the future, Butamax Advanced Biofuels expects to license the technology to produce biobutanol to other biofuel producers. The company will also work with fuel blenders and distributors globally to introduce biobutanol into the fuels market.
Butamax Advanced Biofuels will also work closely with Kingston Research Limited, another joint venture between BP and DuPont. Kingston Research Limited is constructing a biobutanol technology demonstration plant in Hull, UK.
Butamax Advanced Biofuels will complete the development of biobutanol technology that has been underway for several years under a partnership agreement between BP and DuPont.
The technology program will focus on how to produce biobutanol from sugar and starch feedstocks, including lignocellulosic feedstocks, at a price that is competitive with ethanol.
Butamax Advanced Biofuels will work closely with Kingston Research Limited, to demonstrate production of biobutanol at a technology demonstration plant in the UK.
In the future, Butamax Advanced Biofuels expects to license the technology to produce biobutanol to other biofuel producers. The company will also work with fuel blenders and distributors globally to introduce biobutanol into the fuels market.
Development of biobutanol
BP and DuPont, who have created Butamax Advanced Biofuels, have been working on biobutanol development for a number of years. They have undertaken an extensive technology development program to demonstrate the benefits of biobutanol and to develop the manufacturing technology.
The companies have developed an extensive IP portfolio, including more than 70 patent applications.
The companies have also tested biobutanol in real vehicles on real roads – covering a distance of more than 1.5 million vehicle road-miles. These tests have proven that biobutanol blended at a 16% volume into fuels demonstrates excellent vehicle performance.