Telegraph. John Nichols, the co-founder and former chief executive of UK-based Biofuels Corporation, is trying to raise up to £80 million (US$156 million) to design and to build a biobutanol plant in the south of Ireland, which would use local sugar beets as the feedstock.
In 2006, BP and DuPont created a partnership to produce biobutanol, also from beet sugar. The resulting fuel is to be introduced in the UK this year as a gasoline bio-component. (Earlier post.)
Nicholas co-founded Biofuels Corporation in 2003, but stepped down as CEO in 2004 as the company struggled with production delays and financing problems. The company’s plant at Teeside has a capacity of 250,000 tonnes per year.
Nicholas has appointed MacArthur & Co, a boutique merchant bank, to run the fundraising process.
He said: “We are looking to create a diversified alternative fuel business in the south of Ireland. There are currently about 3,500 sugar beet farmers in Ireland, but none of them are growing sugar beet any more. We see that as creating an opportunity for us.”
Compared to ethanol, biobutanol—C4H10O, a four-carbon alcohol —has a number of advantages:
A lower vapor pressure than gasoline
An energy content closer to that of gasoline than ethanol.
The ability to be blended at higher concentrations than ethanol for use in standard vehicle engines. Currently biobutanol can blended up to 10% volume over volume (v/v) in European gasoline and 11.5%v/v in US gasoline. There is the potential in the future to increase the maximum allowable use in gasoline up to 16% volume.
Less susceptible to separation in the presence of water than ethanol/gasoline blends, enabling the use of existing distribution infrastructure without requiring modifications in blending facilities, storage tanks or retail station pumps.
Potential for co-blending with ethanol to improve overall fuel properties.
Potentially suitable for transport in pipelines, unlike existing biofuels.
|Heat of Combustion||BTU/gallon US||76,000||93,000|
|Heat of Vaporization||BTU/gallon US||2,600||1,700|
Liquid Fuels from Biomass (NREL)