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Global Bioenergies reports first production of ETBE entirely from renewable resources

Global Bioenergies announced the production of ETBE—Ethyl tert-butyl ether, an oxygenate additive for gasoline—purely from renewable resources. ETBE features very different and advantageous physical and chemical characteristics, compared to ethanol, when blended into gasoline. These include significantly lower blending volatility; no significant distortion of the distillation curve; better tolerance of wet distribution systems; double the octane increase per “barrel” at equivalent ethanol content and narrower octane sensitivity; and better material compatibility. (ETBE RON = 119, MON = 103, AKI = 111)

ETBE also provides a series of environmental benefits compared to ethanol used alone, such as lower VOCs emission, lower permeation losses in the vehicle, and additional CO2 emissions reduction due to less severe refinery operations.

Conventionally, partially renewable ETBE is obtained by combining a molecule of renewable ethanol with a molecule of fossil isobutene using a simple and proven process. It is used as an additive in vehicle fuel, up to a maximum of 23%. The global market for the product is currently valued at more than €2 billion, or more than 3 million tonnes annually.

Global Bioenergies has now used this same process to combine renewable ethanol with renewable isobutene obtained using Global Bioenergies’ technology. This purely renewable ETBE holds the potential for incorporating 2.7 times more renewable energy in gasoline than with traditional biofuels. It will also help to cut greenhouse gas emissions even further.

Current standards limit the inclusion of traditional biofuels because of their physical and chemical properties. For example, the French standard caps ethanol content at 5% in 95-octane and 98-octane unleaded gasoline, and at 10% in unleaded 95-E10 gasoline.

The majority of countries in the world impose this type of limit – commonly known as the “blend wall”, but if biofuels are to become more widely used in the future, this limit will have to be addressed. Global Bioenergies’ fully renewable ETBE thus offers a new method for getting beyond the blend wall.

We have used commercial fermentative ethanol and renewable isobutene produced by Global Bioenergies, which is a perfect match for the specifications required for this reaction. We are proud to have been selected to produce this first batch of 100% renewable ETBE, which could be a game changer in fuel additives.

—Daniela Pufky-Heinrich, Project Manager at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes

This first production of entirely renewable ETBE was supported by a grant of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The conversion into purely renewable ETBE adds to our previous successes converting renewable isobutene to chemical products, materials and iso-octane fuel. The increasing number of applications underscores the value of our strategy to give priority to isobutene as a target from the company’s earliest beginnings and strengthens it in its innovative approach to reforming the global energy model.

—Philippe Marlière, co-founder and partner of Global Bioenergies


Dr. Strange Love

Tert-butyl is an isomer of butane. In ETBE it displaces the Hydrogen on the ethanol hydroxyl group. I am sure it has better miscible properties and is less corrosive to metals. But it has less percentage oxygen.

I am not sure if this can be labeled progress.


The main problem is commercialisation. There have been ton of articles about bio-fuels and synthetic gasoline, yet not a single drop is for sale here and anywhere. These corrupted researchears are just grabbing grants onlt and are not interrested in starting a decent business out of it to compete crude petroleum oil and refineries, thus taxpayers just lose their money toward corrupted politicians and granted to the max madscientists.


MTBE was a disaster made from natural gas, it polluted water ways and stayed in the environment. If this is more bio degradable, less toxic and can be made with renewable materials..maybe.


The funny thing I notice about regulated industries such as automobiles is how technology waxes and wanes with incentives/patents on processes. (interesting one is the refrigerant Freon, then its successors, the push to anything other than CO2 seems like a money grab to me at this point, but then again, I'd be interested in propane)

Ethanol is being defunded, thus new competitors trying for alternatives.

I am kind of curious as to how ETBE will affect the combustion gasses. The extra oxygen in the ethanol did help lower emissions, but it is very corrosive. So, an additive that had most of the benefits and less drawbacks could be interesting.

I find it unbelievable that cars used leaded fuels well into the 20th century though.

What needs to happen is a successful transition to isobutanol or something of that sort.

In 20 years, the US and other developed countries might only use 20-50% of what we currently use as far as gasoline is concerned. Plug in hybrids will get the most low hanging fruit.

Imagine if every car was like a volt, 20 years that is very possible with all the gigafactories and other impressive things going on in the battery world. instead of almost 600gal. for every passenger vehicle on the road, we might only use 100gal. Not perfect but significantly better, and no compromises.

so with this lower usage, we could successfully switch heavily to a low yield green tech. Algae and bacteria come to mind, in waste management scenarios.

petroleum will still need to come out of the ground, as it is the basis for plastics and nearly everything else we lay our hands on. But seeing how a large portion is devoted to transportation, we can start to reduce there.

Dr. Strange Love

SJC. I forgot about MTBE hazards. MTBE and ETBE have similar boiling/melting points. MTBE water solubility is 42g/L while ETBE is 12 g/L. So both have sufficient Polar properties to pollute ground water.

CheeseEater. You have a good point on cyclical nature of industries and regs. Also keep in mind that Industry special interests and Lobbyists are constantly fighting for change when it helps their income bottom line. Refrigerants are a good example. Compressors Don't Die. The system can leak from time to time, but not that often. The only way for the industry to continue the with positive growth is to Continually change Refrigerants. They are all for calling the past refrigerants big polluters , etc. The efficiencies of compressors don't change that much to justify the Capital required to Upgrade to new technology. The scam continues.


PHEVs and delivery truck improvements can reduce road fuel use.
Everything that comes to your home and stores comes by truck.

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