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ButyFix Breaks the Cellulose Barrier

November 5, 2013 in Biofuels, Technology by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

ITRI’s Process Can Be Used to Retrofit Existing Ethanol Plants,
Carbon-Negative Fuel Promises to be Far Cheaper Than Gasoline

Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute is talking up a process it calls ButyFix for making a gasoline-compatible butanol fuel from cellulosic biomass. The fuel is expected to cost about $2 per gallon to produce – and the ITRI technology is available for license.

ITRI images show the microbes produced in fermentation of low-carbon butanol: an electron microscope view at left, and the organisms themselves after they have been allowed to stabilize and harden.

ITRI images show the microbes produced in fermentation of low-carbon butanol: an electron microscope view at left, and the organisms themselves after they have been allowed to stabilize and harden.

ButyFix, ITRI says, is “the first biochemical technology for bio-butanol transportation fuel production that has a negative carbon footprint and that uses nature’s most abundant biomass, cellulose, as its feedstock rather than corn.”

“Furthermore,” states a release, “butanol produced using ButyFix is the only biofuel that can achieve a transportation-fuel price of US $2.00 per gallon – well below the current price of gasoline and bio-ethanol – and it requires no government subsidies.”

Gasoline Compatible in Engines and Infrastructure

ITRI says that ButyFix-based bio-butanol packs more energy than ethanol and is more compatible with current gasoline engines and existing gasoline infrastructure. “It can be blended with gasoline to double the current amount of ethanol usage without modification of existing automotive engines,” the organization says, and can likewise be blended into gasoline pipelines “without corrosion or other water–related issues associated with ethanol.”

The ButyFix bio-butanol production process consists of three steps, ITRI says:

  • cellulose and hemicellulose are converted into sugars by an eco-friendly chemical solvent in the hydrolysis;
  • sugars are converted into butyrate in a fermentation procedure; and
  • butyrate is chemically converted, via esterification and hydrogenation, into butanol.

The product can be made by retrofitting existing ethanol plants at low capital cost, in which case it can improve profits margins by 20 or even 30%, ITRI adds.

‘Anywhere in the World’

“ButyFix has high potential to solve many current environmental and transportation fuel problems with a green, carbon-negative, energy-efficient bio-butanol production process that can be deployed anywhere in the world,” Dr. Alex Tong, VP and general director of ITRI’s Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories, said in a release.

“ITRI looks forward to working with ethanol- and other fuel-production and chemical-processing organizations worldwide to significantly reduce our global carbon footprint, simplify butanol production and delivery processes, increase biofuel profit margins, and improve biofuel efficiency.”


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Source: ITRI with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

 

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