Source: Jim McCue, composter and biotech researcher from Pittsburgh, PA

Biobutanol: One Among Many Energy AlternativesEdit


Definition of biofuel:

gaseous, liquid, or solid fuel that is rendered from raw biological material (plants, sewage, dry waste, cane sugar or wood pulp) through combustion or fermentation.

There are a variety of ways to convert these bulky materials into fuels useful for industry and transport. The major biofuels produced biologically are biogas generated by anaerobic digestion (biomethanation) and fuel ethanol generated by a yeast-based fermentation of molasses, sugar cane juice, or hydrolysed seed .


Decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels involves discussion of so many alternative strategies - from increasing efficiency to lowering demand to wind to solar to geothermal to tidal to renewables - that I couldn't begin to even properly summarize the areas of work in the energy transition we are going through. I only want to add one more type of biofuel being researched for application, and list some of the other biofuels I have been reading about to show that we do have alternatives to increasing worldwide competition over fossil fuels.

Butanol right now is mostly made from oil, but biobutanol - made via a fermentation process - is being talked about to make energy from cellulosic biomass. It may be one way entrepreneurs can compete at the gas pump, and from local materials.


Websites having to do with biobutanolEdit

Related to biofuels:Edit

...'92 Buick Park Avenue got 24 miles per gallon on butanol with no

modifications - normally gas is 22 mpg...In ten states Butanol reduced Hydrocarbons by 95%, Carbon monoxide to 0.01%, Oxides of Nitrogen by 37%... ...can be blended in any percentage with gasoline seamlessly with increase in performance....can be used in Biodiesel applications can be made from anything that grows on the planet not just corn. We are scaling up and developing our "Pilot Plant"...

...What is cellulosic ethanol? Though the majority of ethanol produced in

the U.S. is made from corn, new technology has been developed to make ethanol from a wider variety of "cellulosic" sources. These cellulosic sources for ethanol include corn stover (the stalks and residue left over after harvest), grain straw, switchgrass, quick-growing tree varieties (such as poplar or willow), or even municipal waste...

Biobutanol has low vapor pressure and tolerance to water contamination in gasoline blends, facilitating its use in existing gasoline supply and distribution channels. It has the potential to be blended into gasoline at higher concentrations than existing biofuels without the need to retrofit vehicles and it offers better fuel economy than gasoline-ethanol blends, improving a car's fuel efficiency and mileage. Biobutanol also enhances the performance of ethanol blends in gasoline... ...will provide significant environmental benefits over petroleum-derived transportation fuels...

Novozymes enters development cooperation on biomass for biofuel in China...

+ China Resources Alcohol Corporation> +> +

From: Towards a green energy pact between Europe an Africa Biobutanol and

Direct Alcohol Fuel Cells...

Now that biobutanol is in the spotlight because of BP and Dupont's

announcement, we can look back at the work that's being done on Direct Alcohol Fuel Cells (DAFC's)...these cells, for which platinum-free catalysts have been developed, operate on hydrogen, methanol, ethanol and more complex hydrocarbons (such as ethylene glycol). Biobutanol can be added to that list. This is another argument for the development of the alcohol economy - as opposed to the problematic hydrogen economy. Biobutanol gets the most out of a sugar or starch rich biomass feedstock stream. Combined with the high efficiency (50%) and low production cost of the DAFC's, we might soon see our laptops, our motorcyles and our cars making use of a 'bio-fuelcell' power system running on biobutanol, ethanol or any blend with gasoline...

It's Corn vs. Soybeans in a Biofuels Debate by ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO Published: July 13, 2006

CHICAGO, July 12 — Biodiesel produced from soybeans produces more usable energy and reduces greenhouse gases more than corn-based ethanol, making it more deserving of subsidies, according to a study being published this month in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences>.

The study, done by researchers at the University of Minnesota

<> and at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., points to the environmental benefits of the biodiesel over ethanol made from corn, stating that ethanol provides 25 percent more energy a gallon than is required for its production, while soybean biodiesel generates 93 percent more energy. The study's authors also found that ethanol, in its production and consumption, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent, compared with fossil fuels. Biodiesel, they said, reduces such emissions 41 percent, compared with fossil fuels.

The study concludes that the future of replacing oil and gas lies with cellulosic ethanol produced from low-cost materials like switch grass or wheat straw, if it is grown on agriculturally marginal land or from waste plant material.

Indeed, the study published by the National Academy of Sciences> found that neither ethanol nor biodiesel can replace much petroleum without having an impact on food supply. If all American corn and soybean production were dedicated to biofuels, that fuel would replace only 12 percent of gas demand and 6 percent of diesel demand, the study notes.

Researchers at universities and at the United States Agriculture Department> have debated ethanol's benefits as policy makers continue to struggle with how to respond to high gasoline prices and how to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Some lawmakers have urged an end to federal subsidies of 51 cents a gallon for ethanol refiners. The subsidies have helped create a boom in ethanol production and have made ethanol more profitable than ever. The researchers in the latest study question ethanol’s environmental benefits, noting that despite the 12 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, ethanol has “greater environmental and human health impacts because of increased release of five air pollutants and nitrate, nitrite and pesticides.”

Neither biofuel was cost-competitive in 2005 without subsidies. Biodiesel cost 55 cents a liter to produce, or 20 percent more than ethanol. Wholesale gasoline prices in 2005 averaged 44 cents a liter, or 4 percent less a liter to produce than ethanol, the study said. Still, biodiesel receives a subsidy that is 45 percent greater a liter than ethanol. Analysts agreed with the study’s conclusion that biodiesel compares favorably with ethanol from an environmental standpoint. “Biodiesel is much cleaner-burning fuel and much less harmful to the environment,” Daniel W. Basse, president of AgResource in Chicago, an economic forecasting firm, said Wednesday.

But Mr. Basse said ethanol production is far more efficient, with some 420 gallons of ethanol produced per acre of corn versus only 60 gallons of biodiesel per acre of soybeans. If biodiesel use ever increased greatly, Mr. Basse said, the cost of soybean oil would rise significantly. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, based in Washington, agreed that biodiesel’s potential was limited. “If you look at the amount of biodiesel you can produce, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of cellulosic ethanol that could be produced one day,” he said.

The Minnesota researchers write that with a projected doubling of global demand for food within 50 years and an even greater expected increase in demand for transportation fuels, “there is a great need for renewable energy supplies that do not cause significant harm and do not compete with food supply.”


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