“Butanol is going to be fabulous”

Butanol is going to be fabulous” That quote from Mary Beth Stanek, GM’s Director Energy and Environmental Policy & Commercialization may be buried deep inside a longish piece in Green Car Congress today about GM pushing for ethanol with its partner Coskata , but it should give hope to people working on that strain of biofuel.

Stanek beieves of butanol:

It’s going to be a great range-extending type of fuel.

I’d like to know the economics of the Kostka process,  which uses bacteria to convert synthesis gas into fuel. Normally that would be done at hight temperature with a catalyst. The good news is that Kostka says its process is robust enough to take a wide range of waste products as feedstock from biofuels to municipal waste. GM announced it was backing second generation biofuels in January

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2 Responses to “Butanol is going to be fabulous”

  1. Haylon 7 June, 2008 at 5:43 am #

    Hi Simon,

    Coskata boasts that it doesn’t require a pre-treatment process, which is true, but at the same time they haven’t published the costs & energy loss associated with the gasification step. As always with Biofuels, I take the “believe it when I see it” approach. Coskata is no different.

    In terms of their technology, it’s obviously proven to be faster to commercialise, but all in all I think a much less efficient way of getting around the ‘consolidated pathway’ approach which is being taken by other companies, such as Verenium. Watching them upscale this technology will be very interesting, lets see the $1/gallon then.

    To be honest, i’m waiting for this company to pull the plug.

    With the speal about bio-butanol, I’m not really sure – we can only wait and see once all these pilot plants eventually reach demo stage. Although in saying that, I’m pretty confident 2nd gen will move more towards either
    biohexane or biobutanol and slowly let go of the ethanol religion.


  2. Simon Robinson 13 June, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    Hi Halon,

    The BP people that I’ve seen talking about biobutanol like it because its got a more oily nature than ethanol (that’s my description its more aliphatic because its got a longer carbon chain) and it is more water resistant that ethanol. BP also seemed to be hinting that it could be used as a blend agent with ethanol to drive water from ethanol. That’s important given the shoddy state of many petrol station storage tanks.

    I’ll be interested to see the scale up too.

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