Gevo, Inc. has received notification that its isobutanol has successfully cleared registration with the US EPA as a fuel additive. Gevo’s isobutanol is the first isobutanol to be listed in the EPA’s Fuel Registration Directory and is now approved for blending with gasoline. (There are two listings for the butanol isomer n-butanol in the directory, from Chevron Oronite and Cobalt Technologies.)
Gevo uses synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to develop biocatalysts (fermentation organisms) to make only isobutanol via fermentation at high concentrations. (Earlier post.)
Gevo believes isobutanol is a very attractive alcohol fuel gasoline blendstock. It has higher energy density than ethanol and lower RVP. Under the Renewable Fuel Standard II, isobutanol qualifies for 30% more renewable fuel value or Renewable Identification Number (RIN) than ethanol for obligated parties. Isobutanol has characteristics that make it an attractive alternative to other gasoline components like alkylate and aromatics, which should enable refiners to modify their gasoline formulation in ways that increase their operating margins. These various attributes also provide refiners with valuable options in meeting their clean air and renewable fuel obligations.
Along with the chemicals market, selling isobutanol as a low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) biofuel blendstock is one of our most important opportunities.—Gevo CEO Dr. Patrick Gruber
Gevo’s isobutanol can be used directly as a specialty chemical, as a gasoline and jet fuel blendstock, and through conversion into plastics, fibers, rubber and other polymers. Gevo will soon begin the retrofit of its first 22 million gallons per year (MPGY) ethanol facility in Luverne, MN to produce 18 MGPY of isobutanol. The Company plans to expand its isobutanol production via the retrofit of additional ethanol facilities over the next few years. In the future, Gevo intends to produce cellulosic isobutanol once biomass conversion technology is commercially available.