Gevo, a privately held renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, has signed definitive agreements to acquire Agri-Energy’s ethanol production facility in Luverne, Minn. for the production of isobutanol.
Mechanical retrofitting of the plant will begin upon closing the transaction. Isobutanol production is expected to begin by the first quarter of 2012. During most of the retrofit process, Gevo expects that the facility will continue to produce ethanol.
This transaction is another important step in achieving our goal of bringing commercial volumes of renewable isobutanol to the market as soon as possible. The Luverne plant is a very well run facility with a strong operating team. It is a great place to begin our commercialization effort. We expect the facility will be the first among many and want it to be a model project for the future.
—Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo
Gevo’s integrated fermentation technology (GIFT) platform consists of two components: a yeast biocatalyst and a separations technology unit that bolts into existing ethanol plants. The process also enables the production of isobutanol from numerous renewable feedstocks including corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and cellulosic feedstocks when biomass conversion becomes commercially available.
In July, Gevo announced that it had successfully produced isobutanol from fermentable sugars derived from cellulosic biomass. The company also successfully converted the cellulosic isobutanol into isobutylene and paraffinic kerosene (jet fuel).
Isobutanol is a four-carbon alcohol that can function as a drop-in platform chemical with broad applications in the product of approximately 40% of petrochemicals and 100% of hydrocarbon fuels. It can be used directly for a solvent and can be dehydrated with known processes into isobutylene, a raw material for plastics and fiber. Gevo believes its isobutanol will provide a route to the renewable production of rubber, polypropylene, polystyrene, and PET. (Earlier post.)