Butanol Makers Gobble Up Belly Up Ethanol Plants
A number of maize ethanol plants went bankrupt last year in the midst of the energy and commodities pricing turmoil. Butanol makers such as Gevo and Butamax (BP, DuPont, PLC) intend to buy up the defunct ethanol plants and convert them to butanol plants. Butanol blends better with gasoline, and is far more valuable as a chemical feedstock than ethanol.
Denver-based Gevo Inc., a privately held biofuels start-up, is expected to say Wednesday that it is lining up financing to acquire and retrofit as many as five ethanol plants to produce biobutanol. The company hopes to purchase or partner with plants with capacity to make at least 200 million gallons a year. At going rates for ethanol plants, the total cost of the plants could exceed $125 million, according to industry experts.As long as oil prices are above $45 a barrel, butanol makers believe their product will be economically competitive with oil as a chemical feedstock in the production of plastics and other high value chemicals.
...Gevo isn't alone. Butamax, a joint venture of BP PLC and DuPont Co., is building its first biobutanol facility in Hull, England, and expects to expand production by retrofitting existing ethanol facilities in the U.S., says a BP spokesman.
Made from corn, wheat and a variety of inedible crops, biobutanol is a versatile fuel. It can be blended into gasoline at higher concentrations than the more common corn-based ethanol. It can be mixed into existing petrochemical infrastructure, unlike ethanol, which can't be moved by pipeline. Also unlike ethanol, biobutanol can be converted into a feedstock for the chemical and plastics industries and used to make flat-screen television sets or water bottles. _Bioenergy