That’s where biofuels like bio-isobutanol come in. The mission of Butamax from its founding has been to apply new developments in biotechnology to create a new biofuel which multiplies the advantages which biofuels can deliver in the very near term.
Bio-isobutanol is an alcohol that can be produced from renewable, organic material (biomass) including corn, wheat, sugarcane and—in the future—non-food plants. This advantaged biofuel was developed to accelerate the shift toward renewable transportation fuels that lower overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Generally blended with gasoline, bio-isobutanol can be used to fuel cars and other vehicles. It can be combined with gasoline on its own or alongside ethanol to help enhance that biofuel’s performance in a fuel blend.
Gasoline DisplacementWith its higher energy content, bio-isobutanol can displace 16% of every gallon of hydrocarbon gasoline. That’s 17 billion gallons of gasoline per year—more than the annual fuel consumption of the state of California.*
* Source: U.S. Department of Energy / Energy Information Agency Annual Energy Outlook 2013, Early Release
How is bio-isobutanol different from ethanol?
- Compared with ethanol, bio-isobutanol’s energy content is closer to that of gasoline. That means less compromise on fuel economy, which 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.
- Bio-isobutanol can be used in higher blend concentrations than ethanol without requiring specially adapted vehicles, and will not force automakers to compromise on performance in order to meet environmental regulations.
- Fuel specifications in the U.S., for example, allow bio-isobutanol to be blended to 16% by volume—versus 10% by volume for ethanol—without compromising performance, durability, fuel economy or emissions. We believe actual blend limits for bio-isobutanol usage in existing vehicles may be even higher.
- A 16% by volume bio-isobutanol blend offers consumers the same fuel economy as a 10% by volume ethanol blend, while providing double the energy from renewable sources and double the GHG benefits.
With all of its economic and environmental benefits, when will bio-isobutanol become a component in fuels on sale to consumers?
- Because bio-isobutanol/gasoline blends are less susceptible to separation in the presence of water than ethanol/gasoline blends and are less corrosive, bio-isobutanol can use the industry’s existing distribution infrastructure without requiring modifications to blending facilities, storage tanks or retail station pumps.
The future of commercially available renewable transportation fuels is closer than you might think. Butamax intends to start commercial production of bio-isobutanol in the near future.