An integrated electromicrobial process to convert CO2 to higher alcohols. Electricity powered the electrochemical CO2 reduction on the cathode to produce formate, which is converted to isobutanol and 3MB by the engineered R. eutropha. Li et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at UCLA have demonstrated a method for converting carbon... Read more →


Overview of the NAWCWD alcohol-to-jet process. Source: NAWCWD. Click to enlarge. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), China Lake has awarded a contract to Albemarle Corporation to complete the first biojet fuel production run based on bio n-butanol provided by Cobalt Technologies. For this production run, Albemarle will... Read more →


Cobalt Technologies demonstrates capability of biocatalyst conversion of biomass sugars to n-butanol; confirms 40-60% cost reduction compared to petroleum-derived n-butanol

Cobalt Technologies, a developer of next-generation technology for the production of n-butanol, announced the successful demonstration of one of its advanced biocatalysts. Partnering with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Cobalt completed multiple fermentation campaigns in a 9,000 liter fermenter, exceeding the target yield and other... Read more →


Honeywell’s UOP receives $1.1M FAA contract to demonstrate technology for conversion of isobutanol from Gevo to aviation biofuels

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, was awarded a $1.1 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) via the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center to develop and demonstrate technology that will produce renewable jet fuel from isobutanol supplied by Gevo, Inc. (Earlier post.) The award was one of eight... Read more →


Gevo awarded $5M to develop cellulosic jet fuel; separate contract to supply alcohol-to-jet drop-in biojet fuel to USAF

Gevo, Inc. received a $5-million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the development of biojet fuel from woody biomass and forest product residues. The award is a portion of a $40-million grant presented to the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a consortium led by Washington State... Read more →


Gevo and Mansfield Oil sign commercial off-take and strategic alliance agreements for renewable isobutanol

Gevo, Inc. has entered into a strategic marketing alliance with Mansfield Oil Company to distribute isobutanol-based fuel into the petroleum market. In addition the companies signed a commercial off-take agreement—Gevo’s second commercial off-take agreement to date and its first in the fuel industry. The agreement has three main component: the... Read more →


Gevo contracts with Arabian American Development to develop hydrocarbon materials from its renewable isobutanol

Arabian American Development Co. (ARSD) has signed a contract with Gevo, Inc., a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, to build a renewable hydrocarbon processing demonstration plant at ARSD’s South Hampton Resources, Inc. subsidiary in Silsbee, Texas and to provide Gevo with toll-processing services necessary to process up to 10,000... Read more →


Cathay’s current bio-refinery model using corn starch as feedstock. Click to enlarge. Shanghai-based Cathay Industrial Biotech, a producer of bio-derived n-butanol and of bioprocess-based long-chain dicarboxylic acids (LCDAs) used as chemical intermediates, has filed a form F-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in preparation for offering American depositary... Read more →


Univ. of Illinois study argues regulatory hurdles hindering commercialization of new biofuels; biobutanol case study

Regulatory hurdles are hindering the successful commercialization of emerging liquid biofuels, according to a new study by University of Illinois law professor Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, a regulatory associate with the University of Illinois Energy Biosciences Institute. Kesan and Slating provide a normative analysis of regulatory schemes... Read more →


Gevo to proceed to jet engine testing of its renewable jet fuel from isobutanol with approval of ASTM alcohol-to-jet task force

Gevo, a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, recently announced that it had presented positive test results from fit-for-purpose testing of its renewable kerosene produced from isobutanol to ASTM’s alcohol to jet (ATJ) task force (D02J006 Alcohol to Jet TF). The ATJ task force consists of technical experts from a... Read more →


High-level process schematic for hydrocarbons from isobutanol. Source: Gevo. Click to enlarge. Gevo, Inc., a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, signed an engineering and consulting agreement with Mustang Engineering, LP for the conversion of Gevo’s renewable isobutanol to biojet fuel. This effort will focus on the downstream processing of... Read more →


Overview of Cobalt’s process. Click to enlarge. Cobalt Technologies, a company using strain development and bioprocess technology to optimize biobutanol production (earlier post), and American Process Inc. (API) are partnering to build an industrial-scale cellulosic biorefinery to produce biobutanol. Additionally, the companies agreed to jointly market a GreenPower+ Biobutanol solution... Read more →


UCLA researchers engineer E. coli to produce 1-butanol with high titer and high yield

A team of UCLA researchers led by Professor James Liao have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to produce 1-butanol with high titer (30 g/L) and high yield (70 - 88% of theoretical production) anaerobically, comparable to or exceeding the levels demonstrated by native producers. An open access paper on their work... Read more →


UC Berkeley researchers boost E. Coli butanol production with new enzymatic pathway

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have constructed a chimeric pathway assembled from three different organisms for the high-level production of n-butanol (4,650 ± 720 mg l-1) in E. coli bacteria. The pathway uses an enzymatic chemical reaction mechanism in place of a physical step as a kinetic control... Read more →


Physiomics, Green Biologics Limited and North Energy Associates to develop advanced fermentation process for biobutanol to make it cost competitive with 1st gen biofuels

Physiomics, an Oxford, UK-based systems biology company, Green Biologics Limited (GBL) and North Energy Associates Limited were recently awarded a total grant for £268,000 (US$424,000) from the Carbon Trust for a project to demonstrate an Advanced Fermentation Process for Butanol. The aim is to improve the microbial fermentation process for... Read more →


Cobalt Technologies and US Navy partner on conversion of biobutanol to renewable jet fuel

Cobalt Technologies, a company focused on commercializing biomass-derived biobutanol as a renewable chemical and fuel (earlier post), has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Navy to develop technology for the conversion of biobutanol into full performance renewable jet and diesel fuels. Under the CRADA, n-biobutanol... Read more →


Price and cost comparison for sugar- and fatty acid-based feedstocks in the production of biofuels and biochemicals. (a) Prices of raw sugar, palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) and non-edible tallow on a per-pound of carbon. (b) Feedstock cost per gallon of ethanol produced. Source: Dellomonaco 2010, Supplementary material I. Click... Read more →


Gevo to Acquire Agri-Energy Ethanol Production Facility to Produce Renewable Isobutanol

Gevo, a privately held renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, has signed definitive agreements to acquire Agri-Energy’s ethanol production facility in Luverne, Minn. for the production of isobutanol. Mechanical retrofitting of the plant will begin upon closing the transaction. Isobutanol production is expected to begin by the first quarter of... Read more →


Gevo’s production process. Click to enlarge. Gevo, a privately held renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company (earlier post), has successfully produced isobutanol from fermentable sugars derived from cellulosic biomass. The company also successfully converted the cellulosic isobutanol into isobutylene and paraffinic kerosene (jet fuel). The production of isobutanol from cellulosic... Read more →


ZeaChem’s process. Click to enlarge. ZeaChem Inc. announced the successful production of ethanol at a capacity that can be scaled to commercial production. ZeaChem currently uses harvested hybrid poplar trees as the feedstock of choice in its combined biochemical and thermochemical process for the production of ethanol. (Earlier post.) A... Read more →


DOE, USDA Announce Up To $33M in Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative

The US Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) jointly announced up to $33 million in funding, subject to annual appropriations, for the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to develop biomass feedstocks for the associated production of advanced biofuels (such as biobutanol, renewable hydrocarbons and Fischer-Tropsch fuels), bioenergy and... Read more →


Cobalt Technologies Produces Renewable Biobutanol Fuel From Beetle-Killed Pine

California-based Cobalt Technologies, a company using strain development and bioprocess technology to optimize biobutanol production (earlier post), has successfully produced biobutanol from beetle-killed lodgepole pine feedstock. Cobalt combined a non-enzymatic pretreatment process derived from the pulp and paper industry to release the C5 and C6 sugars from the pine, followed... Read more →


Engineered Yeast Produces Ethanol and Butanol from C5 and C6 Sugars from Biomass Feedstocks

Researchers from Frankfurt University have engineered the common industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ferment pentose (C5) as well as hexose (C6) sugars derived from biomass feedstock to produce bioethanol and biobutanol. A talk on the work—“Genetic engineering of industrial yeast strains for the production of bioethanol and biobutanol from C5... Read more →


Photo of seaweed used by Bio Architecture Lab. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded a Technology Investment Agreement to DuPont for the development of a process to convert sugars produced by macroalgae into isobutanol. Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) will be... Read more →


Cobalt Technologies, a company using strain development and bioprocess technology to optimize biobutanol production for commercially viable renewable fuels and chemicals, formally launched its pilot facility in Mountain View, California. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Silicon Valley cleantech leaders were on hand. Cobalt uses non-food feedstock, such as forest waste... Read more →


Overview of Syntec’s B2A process. Click to enlarge. Syntec Biofuel Inc. has entered into a joint development program with the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks for converting a wide variety of biomass and waste into bio-butanol. The core process... Read more →


On 19 December, President Obama signed into law the $636.3-billion Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3326) (earlier post) which provides FY 2010 appropriations for Department of Defense (DOD) military programs. Attached to the bill (now law) are $4.197 billion in 1,719 earmarks—Congressionally directed spending projects. Of those earmarks, about 156... Read more →


Gevo Biobutanol Retrofit Plant Starts Up; Gevo Launches Development Company to Retrofit Ethanol Plants

Gevo, Inc., a biobutanol and renewable hydrocarbons company, announced the start up of its first biobutanol demonstration plant designed from retrofitting an existing demonstration scale ethanol plant to produce biobutanol. (Earlier post.) In successfully producing biobutanol at the 1 million gallon per year pilot plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, Gevo... Read more →


Researchers Develop New Bacterial Strain with Higher Butanol Tolerance; Potential to Double the Output of Biobutanol from Conventional Bacterial Fermentation

Researchers at Ohio State University and Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a method that can double the output of biobutanol compared to conventional bacterial fermentation through the use of a new strain of bacteria and a new bioreactor. They reported their results... Read more →


31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals; Some New Approaches for Producing Butanol

The 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, a special conference of the Society for Industrial Microbiology, began yesterday in San Francisco with its largest group of conferees yet—approximately 850. The academic conference, hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), runs through Wednesday and features a large technical... Read more →


Study Finds Strong Synergy Between Spark Ignition Engine Downsizing and Low-to-Moderate Alcohol Blend Fuels

A study by engineers from Mahle Powertrain Ltd and BP found strong synergy between spark ignition (SI) engine downsizing and fuel containing low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol, including ethanol and butanol. The team presented a paper on their work at the recent SAE 2009 World Congress in Detroit. The researchers found... Read more →


Total Invests in Series D Round of Butanol and Renewable Hydrocarbons Company Gevo

Oil and gas major Total has invested an undisclosed amount in the series D round of advanced biofuels company Gevo. Gevo was founded in 2005 by Drs. Frances Arnold, Matthew Peters and Peter Meinhold of the California Institute of Technology. The company is focused on the development of advanced biofuels... Read more →


Diesel Brewing to Manufacture Cellulosic Biobutanol from Biomass and Manure With Thermochemical Process

Oregon-based Diesel Brewing has launched an initiative to manufacture cellulosic biobutanol from biomass and dairy farm manure. Biobutanol can be blended into conventional gasoline or diesel stocks without engine modifications. Compared to ethanol, it has higher energy content, is substantially less corrosive, and can be transported utilizing existing fuel pipelines... Read more →


JBEI Researchers Engineer Yeast to Produce n-Butanol

n-butanol production by the different strains. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led by Dr. Jay Keasling at UC Berkeley, have engineered the common industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae with an n-butanol biosynthetic pathway, resulting in a ten-fold improvement in n-butanol production from one of the strains... Read more →


Gevo and ICM Ally to Commercialize Production of Butanols and Hydrocarbons From Retrofitted Ethanol Plants

Synthetic networks for non-fermentative alcohol production from glucose in engineered E. coli developed by Dr. Liao at UCLA and licensed by Gevo. The red arrows represent the two-step conversion (KDC/ADH) of 2-keto acids to alcohols. Click to enlarge. Adapted from Atsumi et al. 2008 Gevo, Inc. and ICM, Inc. have... Read more →


Cobalt Biofuels Raises $25 Million to Commercialize Biobutanol

California-based Cobalt Biofuels has raised $25 million in equity to accelerate the commercialization of its cost-effective biochemical process for biobutanol production. Cobalt says that the advantages of its process are based on advances in microbial strain improvement, fermentation reaction management, and separation technology. The Series C equity round was co-led... Read more →


Integrated SSFR Process Could Make Cellulosic Biobutanol More Competitive with Ethanol

Researchers at the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are refining an integrated method of producing cellulosic biobutanol that could make it more competitive with ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. (Earlier post.) Research team leader Nasib Qureshi began investigating the production of cellulosic biobutanol from wheat straw in 2003. His... Read more →


GM Developing Global Advanced Biofuels Program

A portion of the current biofuels component of GM’s roadmap to improved energy diversity and reduced emissions. Click to enlarge. GM has been steadily building a global advanced biofuels program as one element of its efforts to reduce the use of petroleum and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The company’s approach... Read more →


BP: Biofuels Could Potentially Account for up to 30% of Global Transportation Fuel by 2030

Based on announced targets and pending regulations, BP’s assessment is that biofuels could account for between 11 and 19% of the transport fuel market by 2030. The company also thinks there is a possibility, if the industry can address some of the land, feedstock and technology issues that exist today,... Read more →


USDA & DOE Release National Biofuels Action Plan; UN FAO Report Calls For Review of Biofuels Policies

NBAP top-level advanced biofuels commercialization timeline. Click to enlarge. The US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) released the National Biofuels Action Plan (NBAP), an interagency plan detailing the collaborative efforts of Federal agencies to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry. Separately, in a new edition of... Read more →


Argonne Investigating Butanol/Diesel Blends in Light-Duty Vehicles

Steady-state NOx versus filter smoke number at 35 mph for ULSD, Bu20 and Bu40. Click to enlarge. Butanol can be used as a blending agent in diesel to displace petroleum and reduce emissions of particulate matter without significantly increasing NOx or significantly lowering the cetane number, according to the results... Read more →


China Lake Researchers Develop Potential Biobutanol Pathway for Synthetic Jet Fuel

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake, California have developed an efficient batch catalysis process for the conversion of 1-butene (C4H8)—easily derived from butanol (C4H10O)—to a new class of potential synthetic jet fuel blends, with a specific focus on the requirements for the Navy’s... Read more →


GM Pushes for Ethanol; Update on Cellulosic Biofuels Partner Coskata

Cellulosic ethanol producer Coskata has rapidly brought its microbes to levels of commercial productivity with the assistance of genomic analysis that identified optimized nutritional pathways. Click to enlarge. Source: Coskata General Motors is picking up the pace on its steady push for the adoption of ethanol as a major alternative... Read more →


Bio-Butanol Startup Closes $17M Financing Round

Mercury News. Gevo, a spinoff from Caltech that is targeting the production of bio-butanol and other advanced biofuels from a variety of biomass feedstocks, has closed a $17-million third round of funding. New investors include life sciences merchant bank Burrill & Co. and the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, who... Read more →


Ohio Awards $17M in Advanced Energy Grants; Major Focus on Alternative Fuels

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission has awarded more than $12 million in grants to 17 Ohio-based entities to accelerate the development and growth of the advanced energy industry in Ohio. Awards for advanced energy were selected from the wind, solar, alternative fuel, energy storage and instruments, controls, and electronics sectors.... Read more →


DuPont and BP Partnership Targeting Multiple Butanol Molecules; Testing 16% Blends

The DuPont and BP partnership to develop and commercialize biobutanol (earlier post) is targeting advanced metabolic pathways for 1-butanol as well as other higher-octane biobutanol isomers. Testing of these advanced biofuels has demonstrated that the use of biobutanol can increase the blending of biofuels in gasoline beyond the current 10%... Read more →


UCLA Researchers Modify E. Coli to Produce Efficiently Higher-Chain Alcohols for Advanced Biofuels

The UCLA approach shifts part of the bacteria’s biosynthetic pathway to alcohol synthesis. Various 2-keto acid precursors lead to corresponding alcohols through 2-ketoacid decarboxylase and alcohol dehydrogenase. Click to enlarge. Researchers at UCLA have genetically modified Escherichia coli to produce efficiently several higher-chain alcohols from glucose, including isobutanol, 1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol,... Read more →


University of Alberta Team wins iGEM Prize for Bioengineering E. Coli to Produce Butanol

A 10-member team of University of Alberta students, who call themselves the “Butanerds,” won first prize in the Energy and the Environment category at the fourth annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition held this past weekend at MIT. The team has been working on manipulating E. coli to produce... Read more →


BlueFire Files for Construction Permits for California’s First Cellulosic Waste to Ethanol Plant; Demo Facility for Bio-Butanol

Simplified flow diagram for the Arkenol process used by BlueFire Ethanol. Click to enlarge. BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, Inc. filed for its permits with Los Angeles County in June for California’s first cellulose to ethanol production facility. BlueFire Ethanol will receive around $40 million in funding from the US Department of... Read more →


Virgin Fuels Joins Khosla for Second Round in Bio-Butanol Company

Virgin Fuels has joined founding investor Khosla Ventures in a Series B venture round for Gevo, Inc., a spinoff from Caltech, targeting the production of bio-butanol and other advanced biofuels from a variety of biomass feedstocks. With the funding, Patrick Gruber has joined Gevo as CEO. Gruber was a founder... Read more →