Butamax is a joint venture formed by BP and DuPont to develop and commercialise bio-isobutanol as a next generation renewable biofuel and chemical. The 50/50 joint venture have just announced their acquisition of Nesika Energy and its state-of-the-art ethanol facility in Scandia, Kansas. Butamax will now start the detailed engineering work to add bio-isobutanol capacity to the facility, while continuing to produce ethanol before and after adding this capacity. When the newly acquired facility in Kansas has bio-isobutanol production capability, it will be used as a demonstration facility for potential licensees to see the technology in operation and serve as a proving ground for future developments.
“To drive growth in U.S. manufacturing, we must employ disruptive thinking and innovation to unlock the power of renewable raw materials,” said William F. Feehery, president, DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “With the purchase and planned build-out of the Nesika facility to include bio-isobutanol production, Butamax is taking the next step forward in advancing the bioeconomy, which supports economic growth and opportunity in rural communities.”
Butamax is a joint venture between BP ( @BP_plc ) and DuPont ( @DuPontBiobased ) to develop biobutanol and was formed in Delaware, US, in 2009. The joint venture benefits from the combination of DuPont’s proven industrial biotechnology experience and BP’s global fuels market knowledge.
"Today, the bioeconomy is already estimated at a value of $393 billion in the US each year and this figure can only be set to increase."
It is hoped that when a full scale commercial production has been launched, Butamax will have the potential to be a growing force in the bioeconomy. Together BP and DuPont have created a technology which offers a low cost, high value drop-in biofuel for global transportation fuels supply. It converts the sugars from various biomass feedstocks, including corn and sugarcane into isobutanol using existing biofuel production facilities.
Dev Sanyal, BP’s chief executive of alternative energy, said, “We believe we can build commercially viable businesses at scale, and this project, which brings together BP’s and DuPont’s complementary expertise, is another important step in that direction.”
Bio-isobutanol is a cost-effective alternative to isobutanol derived from fossil feedstock. It offers both a valuable option for growing the renewable content of gasoline and a lower carbon alternative to fossil-derived isobutanol in existing chemical applications. As a fuel, it can be blended with gasoline in higher concentrations than ethanol without compromising compatibility or performance. Bio-isobutanol blends do not suffer from the water solubility issues of ethanol, which means they can be transported via existing fuel pipelines. In the chemicals industry, it is used both directly and as an important building-block for a wider range of products.
“The Nesika facility will serve to demonstrate our technology at scale as well as validate process and biocatalyst improvements. Our plan is to broadly license our technology, and Nesika and the technology deployed at the site will play a key role in that activity,” said Stuart Thomas, Butamax CEO.
Butamax plans to license its proprietary bio-isobutanol technology beyond this first facility on a global scale. When the newly acquired facility in Kansas has bio-isobutanol production capability, it will be used as a demonstration facility for potential licensees to see the technology in operation and serve as a proving ground for future developments.
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