Biobutanol Sustainable Development with Life Cycle Assessment

Wednesday, November 10, 2010: 3:15 PM
Grand Ballroom H (Marriott Downtown)
Steven Barr1, Robin Jenkins1, Bruce Vrana1, Tom Xu1, Michael Grady2, Joseph J. Zaher3, Tyler Ames4 and Adam Schubert4, (1)DuPont Engineering Research and Technology, DuPont, Wilmington, DE, (2)Applied Biosciences, DuPont, Wilmington, DE, (3)Central Research & Development, DuPont, Wilmington, DE, (4)Butamax(TM) Advanced Biofuels LLC, Wilmington, DE

DuPont and BP have joined forces to form Butamax™ Advanced Biofuels LLC to manufacture the advanced biofuel biobutanol. Butamax™ is in the process of building a biobutanol demonstration facility in an existing BP operation at Saltend, Hull, north of London. DuPont and BP scientists and engineers are committed to making advanced biofuels and energy-efficient biofuel processes a reality.

Renewable feedstocks such as corn grain and sugar cane are converted to fermentable sugars for the production in biobutanol. Biobutanol has a lower heating value of 27 MJ/liter (close to that of unleaded gasoline), it can function in existing gasoline pipelines, and it is compatible with ethanol fuel blends. Biobutanol is less volatile, less corrosive, and less hydroscopic than ethanol. Biobutanol can be blended to a 16% volume versus the current 10% limit for ethanol in gasoline under an existing EPA waiver. This will allow greater renewable fuel content with biobutanol while retaining compatibility with existing vehicles and infrastructure.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used to evaluate future technology options. Sustainability principles are integrated into research and development to enable innovative and competitive future technology options with quantifiable environmental benefits in the marketplace. In order to benchmark biobutanol with existing technologies, LCA results are compared to ethanol, conventional gasoline and the traditional biological production of butanol using the acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) technology. Future technology options for producing biobutanol appear comparable to ethanol and favorable compared to conventional gasoline and butanol from ABE in terms of well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions and fossil energy use. The impact of farming practices and process options will be demonstrated.

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