Biobased Butanol Info

Next Generation Biofuel


Industrial bioproduct


BioButanol Advantages

What are biobutanol advantages?

One of the most important biobutanol advantage is the fact that its will reduce carbon emissions.  The EPA has released data showing that hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide releases can be greatly reduced by use of biobutanol.  Another advantage is that biobutanol has a higher energy content than ethanol, almost 20% more by density.  Due to its similarities to conventional gasoline, it is able to blend much better than ethanol with gasoline.  It has even shown promise when using 100% biobutanol in a conventional gasoline engine.  Besides these, biobutanol experiences a lower chance of separation and corrosion than ethanol.   Biobutanol also resists water absorption, allowing it to be transported in pipes and carriers used by gasoline.  A very exciting advantage of biobutanol is that vehicles require no modifications to use it.  This means that with effective pumping systems, it can be implemented immediately.  Currently, funds are quickly rising for biobutanol production and the only requirement is a cheap and fast modification to the ethanol plants which already exist.  As yield efficiencies rise, the cost of biobutanol will continue to drop from its already reasonable price. 


Quantifying advantages of Biobutanol?

A recent article conpared the full life cycle assessment of biobutanol and bioethanol.  Recall that ethanol adds only a small positive delta to the energy balance.  In some cases, producing ethanol via fermentation costs the same energy (from fertilization, harvesting, fermentation and separation) as energy expended in the steps involved in producing ethanol.  Biobutanol shifts the equation considerably.

Swana state that “Life-cycle assessments (LCAs) suggest that the net energy generated during corn-to-biobutanol conversion is 6.53MJ/L, which is greater than that of the corn-derived bioethanol (0.40MJ/L).”  Methods expected to be employed in the next 3-4 years further double the energy assessment.

Swana J, Yang Y, Behnam M, Thompson R: An analysis of net energy production and feedstock availability for biobutanol and bioethanol. Bioresour Technol. 2010 Aug 24

How does biodegradation of n-butanol and isobutanol in ground compare to ethanol?

 When you have fuel in underground storage tanks at a gas station, there is a chance of it leaking into the ground.  A recent presentation by Cherri Adir and John Wilson of US EPA/ORD/NRMRL on Septemeber 20, 2010 shows that aneraboic degradation of both n-butanol and isobutanol is considerably slower (20x)than ethanol.  This is not bad news.  It turns out that ethanol in fuel undergoes rapid biodegradation causing methane gases to form rapidly.  These methane gases can result in explosions.  In addition, rapid biodegradation of ethanol can interfere with natural degradation of petroleum based portion of the fuel.


" helped me learn about this exciting biobased solvent. I look forward to formulating with it."

- Leonard Shine, USA -