Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bio- Butanol Big Players

As I mentioned in previous post butanol is not too far to be seen as a fuel, this chemical has properties which make this fuel as a versatile fuel, clean energy source, has a potential to reduce formation of green house gases like carbon di oxide,pollutants like sulfur di oxide and global warming. In gasoline blend butanol works as a fuel, oxygenate and also additive for octane rating improvement, benefits of butanol in diesel fuel I've written in previous post. Here are summary of companies involved in biobutanol process development.

Any discussion on bio-butanol fuel can not go on/off without mentioning BP-Dupont partnership, butanol has caught huge attention lately as a biofuel after an interest shown by this partnership. There process is based on fermentation route of producing butanol using sugar from variety of feed stocks. BP-Dupont have recently announced commencement of commercialization of butanol with the name Butamax Advanced Biofuels. Butamax is closely working with Kingston research Limited, KRL is a consulting a bio-butanol technology demonstration plant in UK, which is planned to be operational in 2010 and the first commercial plant is expected to be operational by 2013.
California based biofuel company has proprietary technologies in microbial physiology, strain development, fermentation. They believe their local, non food based feed stock, continuous fermentation and patented vapor compression distillation separation system significantly reduces energy and production cost. Cobalt biofuels use the bacteria clostrium to break down components of plant matter including cellulosic, hemicellulosic and starch and produce butanol, ethanol, and acetone (ABE). Cobalt Biofuels has raised capital from a high profile list of venture funds, including Pinnacle Ventures, Vantage Point Venture Partners, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Funds, Life Science Partners.
BFL has developed a biobutanol fermentation process which has significantly reduces the production cost compared to conventional fermentation process. This patented technology is would e able to produce 1.3 to 1.9 times more butanol per bushel of corn compared to conventional ABE process. And estimated production cost is $1.2/ gallon which is less than ethanol's cost $1.28/gallon and petrobased butanol's cost $.35/gallon, and according to BFL the cost can be further brought down by using waste feed stock.
Gevo is a Colorado based company in to next generation fuel, engaged in production of isobutanol using fermentation route. The project is led by Dr. Liao from ULCA using genetically modified microbe for higher butanol tolerance and yield. Gevo is also involved in process engineering to enhance productivity and cut down separation cost. Gevo is backed by venture capitalist like Khosla group, Total and Virgin Green funds.
UK-based company has developed their own thermophillic bacteria for rapid enzymatically release of fermentable sugar from biomass, this bacteria strains can also digest hemicellulose (5-carbon sugar) feed stocks. GBL's using genetic engineering has developed a strain to produce high yields of butanol and can tolerate close to 4% butanol concentration. Recently, GBL has announced signing agreement between GBL and Laxmi Organics, India for construction of commercial demonstrator for bio-butanol.
Syntec is a Canada based renewable energy company working on processes of biomass to alcohols (B2A). Right now thry are working on development of catalyst for conversion of cellulosic biomass to pure isobutanol using thermochemical process. Syntec biofuel is focusing on utilizing wide range of biomass like, MSW, forestry and agriculture waste as a feedstock.


  1. Nice list. I would include TetraVitae Bioscience as a company with strong potential (plus it is in your backyard in Chicago:-)

  2. Well said, ya TetraVitae Chicago based, I feel they are keeping low profile, correct me if I'm wrong.Do you have details? I'll elaborate about TV.


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