US ethanol firm Big River to retrofit plants to Butamax tech

26 June 2012 18:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethanol producer Big River has signed a letter of intent with biofuels technology firm Butamax to retrofit its ethanol plants to biobutanol, Butamax said on Tuesday.

Butamax, which is offering ethanol producers access to its biobutanol technology, said that including Big River, it now has signed letters of intent with eight ethanol firms interested in retrofitting their plants.

The eight producers have a combined capacity of about 900m gal/year (3.41bn litres/year) of ethanol from 11 plants. Big River alone has a capacity of 400m gal/year from four plants.

Butamax estimates that in order to successfully enter the fuels market with biobutanol, a production capacity of between 500m and 1bn gal/year is needed.

Butamax expects commercial biobutanol production to begin in 2014, it said.

Butamax spokeswoman Pamela Schools told ICIS that the company will announce by the end of 2012 which facility will be retrofitted first.

“Once that retrofit is complete, we will retrofit multiple facilities simultaneously in waves,” Schools said.

“The exact number and timing of those waves will be determined by market demand,” she added.

In addition to biofuels companies, Butamax is in discussions with other strategic partners throughout the fuels value chain, Schools said.

“There is strong interest from refiners and fuel marketers who recognise the favourable attributes of biobutanol,” she said.

“Regulatory efforts are progressing well to enable Butamax’s 2014 commercial production schedule,” she added.

Butamax is a joint venture between DuPont and BP.

Check out Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals Blog for views on sustainability issues

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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