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 is demonstrating the viability of its technology for retrofitting existing ethanol plants to make biobutanol.
Gevo’s biobutanol can be blended directly into gasoline. Gevo’s technology also enables using the biobutanol for the production of renewable hydrocarbons such as isooctene and isooctane for the gasoline market, renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel blendstocks. In addition, Gevo’s technology enables the production of a wide variety of chemicals such as isobutylene and paraxylene from renewable resources.
Biobutanol has higher energy content than ethanol and a lower Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), which means lower volatility and evaporative emissions. Standard automobile and small engines can run on biobutanol blended into gasoline at any ratio, according to Gevo.
This is the first time that an existing ethanol operation has been successfully retrofitted to produce biobutanol instead of ethanol. ICM’s pilot plant at St. Joseph has been designed and constructed as a reduced scale replica of a dry-milled ethanol production process. The retrofit of the pilot plant was completed in less than three months. This successful retrofit also represents the first step along the route to produce cellulosic biobutanol which will be possible once biomass conversion technology becomes commercially available.
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 and renewable chemicals based on isobutanol and its derivatives using engineered microbes. Corporate developments over the past year have included:
In October 2008, Gevo and ICM, Inc. formed a strategic alliance for the commercial development of Gevo’s Integrated Fermentation Technology (GIFT) that enables the production of isobutanol and hydrocarbons from retrofitted ethanol plants. This resulted in the construction of the demonstration plant.
In January 2009, Gevo and Bye Energy announced a development agreement to jointly explore opportunities for the marketing and distribution of renewable aviation fuels to small and medium-sized airports. (Earlier post.)
In February 2009, Gevo, Inc. announced a licensing agreement with Cargill that will further enable the manufacture of renewable hydrocarbons for fuels and chemicals from cellulosic crop sources. Under the terms of this agreement, Gevo will have exclusive rights to integrate Cargill’s world class microorganisms into its GIFT process to produce butanols from cellulosic sugars that are derived from plant materials such as corn stover, switchgrass, forest residues, and other sustainable feedstocks.
In April 2009, oil and gas major Total invested an undisclosed amount in the series D round. (Earlier post.)
Separately, Gevo has formed Gevo Development, LLC to develop a fleet of biorefineries based on retrofitting existing ethanol plants with Gevo’s proprietary technology to produce biobutanol. Biobutanol is an advanced biofuel that can be blended directly into gasoline and be used to make renewable hydrocarbons (green gasoline), jet and diesel fuel, chemical intermediates and bio-based plastics.
The development company will enable us to secure production capacity by retrofitting existing plants to make commercial volumes to meet demand for advanced biofuels. Gevo Development’s business model is open—it will include acquisitions, joint ventures and tolling arrangements providing flexibility to existing owners and lenders.—Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo
Gevo Development, LLC will be managed by Mike Slaney and David Black who have significant experience in the financing, acquisition and operation of ethanol facilities. Slaney and Black co-founded and raised over $430 million to capitalize ASABiofuels, the largest project financing ever completed in the ethanol industry.