Although ethanol is the word that most readily comes to mind when many think of alternative fuels, “biobutanol” is increasingly being supplanted for the former by those at the cutting edge of the drive to reduce the world’s dependence upon fossil fuels; and for good reason.
Biobutanol is a specialized form of butanol from fermenting biomass that is not dissimilar from typical corn-based ethanol but where ethanol offers only 70% of the potency of regular gasoline, biobutanol ranks as similarly efficient as its fossil fuel-based counterpart. . This suggests that motorists are likely to require less biobutanol to cover the same distance as those utilizing ethanol in their vehicles.
Atlantic Energy Research analysts are known to be particularly excited about biobutanol and have focused on identifying several companies that are at the vanguard of the effort to bring the fuel into the mainstream. Despite ethanol’s credentials as an alternative fuel, critics say that its production places undue upward pressure on the price of the corn or sugar required to produce it and since both corn and sugar are important commodities, the price fluctuations could affect those who import them as well as driving up the prices of other commodities that become less widely available as farmers devote more land to corn and sugar production.
Biobutanol can be produced from a variety of feedstocks, not just corn and sugar. This means that the aforementioned secondary effects on the price of key commodities can be reduced considerably.
Atlantic Energy Research says that although biobutanol offers more power than ethanol, the higher cost of production has meant that it isn’t being produced on a large-scale commercial basis. While the process for manufacturing biobutanol is essentially the same as that for ethanol, the additional cost arises from the key ingredient in its production, an enzyme essential in the fermentation process.
Since ethanol and biobutanol production are virtually identical, the same facilities may be used to produce biobutanol commercially.
Unlike ethanol, biobutanol does not absorb water and, as such, issues like corrosion or water contamination during transportation are irrelevant.
Although the price of gasoline has fallen considerably since the $147 a barrel high in the summer of 2008, Atlantic Energy Research says that the global economic recovery will push prices up again with renewed vigor. Motorists may be breathing a sigh of relief at the moment but $100+ a barrel oil will return and there is little doubt that the interest in alternative fuels will return with a vengeance. The firm suggests that although ethanol production has the backing of the US government, it is innovative fuels like biobutanol which will continue to gain traction as the strain on commodity prices becomes more acute.