Biobutanol production and properties

Biobutanol is fuel that is produced by fermentation of biomass, and it can be used as a fuel in an internal combustion engine.

Biobutanol is more similar to gasoline compared to ethanol, and with some gasoline vehicles biobutanol can be used even without the modifications.

Biobutanol has relatively long history as biobutanol plants operated in numerous countries, including the United States, UK, China and Russia, during the first two World Wars. In fact, the ability to produce butanol from biomass sources via fermentation has existed since the early 1900s.

Biobutanol has energy content 10 to 20 percent lower than that of gasoline.

Biobutanol has the same chemical properties like petrobutanol, and the only difference between them is that biobutanol is produced from biomass while petrobutanol is produced from fossil fuels.

Biobutanol molecule has four atoms of carbon compared to the two atoms of ethanol, the bigger numbers of carbon atoms means that biobutanol releases more energy than ethanol when burned.

In theory, if switching from gasoline to biobutanol the fuel consumption should be around 10% bigger (lot better than 40% for ethanol) though we are yet to see a comprehensive scientific study that would tell us more about biobutanol fuel consumption.

Biobutanol is much better in tolerating water contamination compared to ethanol, and is also less affected with corrosion than ethanol.

The bigger use of biobutanol instead of fossil fuels would contribute to overall reduction of greenhouse gases because during the time when the feedstock crops are growing carbon dioxide is captured by plants, and this in the end balances carbon dioxide released when biobutanol is burned.

Biobutanol can be produced using existing ethanol production facilities that would need only minor modifications.

Biobutanol production should have advantage in efficiency over ethanol production because some bacteria that produce butanol are also able to digest cellulose, not just starch and sugars like this is the case with ethanol.

Under the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, biobutanol can be blended with gasoline in concentrations up to 11.5 percent by volume.