17 March 2008

Bio-Butanol--A Better Liquid Bio-Fuel

Butanol--a four carbon alcohol--is a much better fuel for automobiles than ethanol, a two carbon alcohol. Smarter investors and bio-technologists understand that a longer carbon chain provides better physical properties to a fuel--including higher energy density.

Qi Bioenergy Blog provides a series of articles looking at Bio-Butanol in today's blog postings.
Biobutanol’s Advantages

* Can be easily added to conventional gasoline, due to its low vapour pressure.
* Has an energy content closer to that of gasoline than ethanol so consumers face less of a compromise on fuel economy – this is particularly important as the amount of biofuel in the fuel blend increases.
* Can be blended at higher concentrations than bioethanol for use in standard vehicle engines. Currently biobutanol can blended up to 10%v/v in European gasoline and 11.5%v/v in US gasoline.
* Well suited to current vehicle and engine technologies.
* Does not require automakers to compromise on performance to meetenvironmental regulations.
* Can be used in higher blend concentrations than ethanol without requiring specially adapted vehicles. There is the potential in the future to increase the maximum allowable use in gasoline up to a 16% volume.
* Is less susceptible to separation in the presence of water than ethanol/gasoline blends, and therefore allows it to use the industry’s existing distribution infrastructure without requiring modifications in blending facilities, storage tanks or retail station pumps.
* Is expected to be potentially suitable for transport in pipelines, unlike existing biofuels; as a result, biobutanol has the potential to be introduced into gasoline quickly and avoid the need for additional large-scale supply infrastructure.
Much more from QiBioenergy, including current biobutanol projects:

  1. Butanol Production by E Coli
  2. Butanol from E Coli
  3. Isobutanol
  4. Bio Butanol
  5. Butyl Fuel
Here are some abstracts from the work of James Liao at UCLA
The reality of biofuels is much richer and complex than you will read in newspapers, mainstream magazines, or see on television news. Genetic engineering of micro-organisms will eventually allow large-scale production of any liquid or gaseous fuel which we want.

Until such mastery over the genetics of micro-organisms is achieved, the race is on for less masterful but quite effective uses of biology and chemistry, to create petrol alternatives.

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