Bio – Isobutanol on the Large Scale

It’s been a while since I posted an article. I’ve been busy with my own CleanChem Startup. But here is some news that you should know about.

Do you remember? The blog previously published an article about biobutanol. Now, one of the companies mentioned therein – in particular Gevo –  announced to enter a joint venture with Redfield Energy to Retrofit Plant for isobutanol production.

The companies intent to retrofit Redfield’s existing ethanol plant into an isobutanol plant with an expected production capacity of approximately 38 million gallons per year. The set up is expected to commence around late 2011, and Gevo expects to begin commercial production of isobutanol at the facility in the fourth quarter of 2012.


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Gevo said it will provide the technology and capital necessary to retrofit Redfield’s existing 50 million gallons per year ethanol facility and, in exchange, will receive an equity interest in Redfield. This JV validates the attractive economics for both Gevo and Redfield and is consistent with Gevo’s business plan.

The Redfield plant will become Gevo’s second production facility and is expected to bring total annual isobutanol capacity for 2012 to approximately 60 million gallons per year. In May 2011, Gevo announced a letter of intent for its third plant, also a JV, for an additional expected 50 million gallons per year of isobutanol production. The company plans to have approximately 110 million gallons per year of isobutanol capacity online in 2013.

About Isobutanol

Isobutanol is a flexible and versatile renewable platform chemical. It can be used as a “drop in” gasoline blendstock, it converts readily to isobutylene, a precursor to a variety of transportation fuel products such as iso-octene (gasoline blendstock), iso-octane (alkylate — high-quality gasoline blendstock and/or avgas blendstock), iso-paraffinic kerosene (IPK, or renewable jet) and diesel.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), environmental efficiency gains from technological and operational measures may not offset the overall emissions that are forecast to be generated by the expected growth in air traffic. As a result, the airline industry is evaluating sustainable alternative fuels to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile, while improving local air quality. It is the ICAO’s view that the development and use of sustainable alternative fuels may play an active role in improving the overall resource allocation and security of aviation fuels supply, perhaps by stabilizing fuel prices. A global framework has been established for sharing information on best practices and/or initiatives to allow sustainable alternative aviation fuels to be developed and brought to market.

Isobutanol is an ideal platform molecule to produce renewable iso-paraffinic kerosene (IPK), a blendstock for jet fuel. Through known technology, isobutanol can be readily converted to a mix of predominantly C12/C16 hydrocarbons. (Information provided by

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