Interesting stuff about the new biofuel, biobutanol, from Chris Wilks of BP this afternoon. While he is positioning the product as a direct competitor to ethanol because of its much greater energy density, typically 27MJ/litre compared to 32MJ/l for gasoline and 21 MJ/l for bioethanol, he also seemed to be suggesting that it can be used to mitigate the effects of water absorption by high ethanol blends.
He presented a slide showing that if you add 2% water to blend of 10% ethanol :90% gasoline then most of the ethanol finds its way into the water. Biobutanol, though does not, it stays in the gas when you add water. That’s a good thing. He showed that if you add biobutanol in small quantities to the 10:90 ethanol gas mixture, and mix in water, then the ethanol stays in the gas. This could be helpful if we’re going to be mixing high ethanol blend with straight gasoline in the future. And if it doesn’t take off as a fuel in its own right, there’s a potential future as an additive.
Also, unlike ethanol, biobutanol helps to reduce the vapour pressure of the mixture, making it safer to use.
Biobutanol is being developed in a joint venture between DuPont and BP, and no public decision has been taken on whether to license the technology once it has been proven.
The 2006 European Biofuels Forum, organised by the World Refining Association, is being held in Warsaw. It ends today 22 November 2006.