Based on preliminary engineering studies to estimate the capital and operating costs for commercial scale production, Optinol Inc. has concluded that it is feasible to produce bio-butanol using its process at energy-cost-parity with ethanol.
Optinol has taken an alternative approach to producing butanol compared to companies like Gevo, Cobalt and Butamax. In lieu of genetic modification of the organism or other hosts such as yeast or E.coli, the Optinol process uses a patented non-GMO clostridium strain that naturally and prolifically favors the production of butanol, and without acetone or ethanol.—Jack Oswald, Interim CEO of Optinol Inc.
The Optinol team chose to engineer a production solution tailored to the organism rather than trying to tailor the organism to existing production processes. The net result is a high yield and commercially robust process to produce low cost butanol at a price competitive with ethanol.
The Optinol process centers on continuous flow through fermentation of our organism in inexpensive immobilized cell columns. Low cost fermentation combined with low cost continuous extraction and low energy distillation processes provide the basis for a low cost commercially robust production platform.—Ravi Randhava, PhD, CTO of Optinol Inc.
The process has been tested with a wide variety of feedstocks including sugar cane juice, corn starch, sweet sorghum juice, molasses types including sugar cane and beets and cellulosic sugars. All forms of sugar performed equally well. The bulk of the lab and pilot work has been conducted at Louisiana State University. Final feasibility studies are targeting optimization of the extraction medium.
Optinol is a collaborative venture between SynGest Inc., Unitel Technologies, Inc. and Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. The development of the Optinol process was led by Donal Day PhD at LSU AgCenter in collaboration with Ravi Randhava PhD, CTO of Optinol.