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BP, DuPont JV Butamax acquires ethanol plant to add bio-isobutanol production capability as demo plant

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a 50/50 joint venture between BP and DuPont, acquired Nesika Energy, LLC and its ethanol facility in Scandia, Kansas. Butamax will now start the detailed engineering work to add bio-isobutanol capacity to the facility, while continuing to produce ethanol before and after adding this capacity.

Butamax plans to license its proprietary bio-isobutanol technology beyond this first facility on a global scale. When the newly acquired facility in Kansas has bio-isobutanol production capability, it will be used as a demonstration facility for potential licensees to see the technology in operation and serve as a proving ground for future developments.

Bio-isobutanol is a cost-effective alternative to isobutanol derived from fossil feedstock. Produced from renewable feedstocks, it offers both an option to increase the renewable content of gasoline and a lower carbon alternative to fossil-derived isobutanol in existing chemical applications. As a fuel, it can be blended with gasoline in higher concentrations than ethanol without compromising compatibility or performance. Bio-isobutanol blends do not suffer from the water solubility issues of ethanol, which means they can be transported via existing fuel pipelines. In the chemicals industry, it is used both directly and as an important building-block for a wider range of products.

We are pleased to announce the acquisition of the Nesika site and would like to welcome Nesika and its employees to Butamax. The Nesika facility will serve to demonstrate our technology at scale as well as validate process and biocatalyst improvements. Our plan is to broadly license our technology, and Nesika and the technology deployed at the site will play a key role in that activity.

—Stuart Thomas, Butamax CEO

DuPont, BP and Butamax worked collaboratively with the state of Kansas on the acquisition opportunity. Partnering with the state on economic incentives and job creation is key to the joint venture’s success.

Butamax believes bio-isobutanol’s many applications across a variety of industries, when coupled with commercial-scale production, have the potential to be a strong step forward in the growing bioeconomy. It is estimated that the bioeconomy today contributes $393 billion into the United States each year and supports 4.22 million jobs, according to the latest US Department of Agriculture estimates, many of them high-skilled, in rural areas across the United States.

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC was formed to develop and commercialize bio-isobutanol as a next-generation renewable biofuel and chemical. The company benefits from the combination of DuPont’s proven industrial biotechnology experience and BP’s global fuels market knowledge.

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