November 12, 2010

Biobutanol progress

The last time I wrote something about bio-butanol was in September for an article on ICIS Chemical Business*. Gevo just announced its initial public offering (IPO), DuPont's Butamax joint venture opened its demonstration plant in Hull, UK, and Cobalt Technologies and signed up engineering firm Fluor to design its 1.5m gal/year plant which is expected to start in 2012.

In October, I wrote an article for ICIS News* about my interview with Chinese biobutanol producer Cathay Industrial Biotech, which is planning to build its second biobutanol facility either in China or in the US. Cathay Biotech's vice president Paul Caswell expects the planned facility's capacity to be around 100,000 tonnes/year.

The company is currently producing corn-based n-butanol for chemical applications at its 100,000 tonne/year biorefinery in Jilin Province, China. The facility, which uses the acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation route, started production in 2009 of about 65-70% butanol, 20-25% acetone and 5-10% ethanol.

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