ITRI Launches ‘Carbon Negative’ Biofuel

by | Oct 28, 2013

ITRITaiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute says its ButyFix is the first biochemical technology for bio-butanol transportation-fuel production that has a negative carbon footprint and uses cellulose as its feedstock rather than corn.

ITRI says the total energy content in the lignin-rich biomass has the surplus to cover not only the energy for production, but also for the entire life cycle of the fuel. As a result, the greenhouse gas emission of ButyFix bio-butanol is slightly negative, the company says.

ButyFix is available now for licensing to biofuel- and chemical-processing organizations. ITRI says that it will receive a 2013 R&D 100 Award in November for this technology.

If the US were to replace corn ethanol with ButyFix butanol based on today’s ethanol consumption of 13 billion gallons, it could further reduce its CO2 emissions by 90 million tons a year, ITRI says. Butanol produced using ButyFix is the only biofuel that can achieve a transportation-fuel price of $2 per gallon — well below the current price of gasoline and bio-ethanol — and it requires no government subsidies, ITRL says.

In other biofuels news, Maverick Biofuels has been awarded three US patents for producing a mixed-alcohol fuel from synthesis gas via a methanol intermediate. Maverick’s Olefinity process involves converting feedstocks, such as landfill waste, biomass, natural gas and the like, into “syngas,” a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases. Syngas is converted to an olefin intermediate, either directly, or by initially producing methanol and converting the methanol to olefins.

Olefins are the building blocks of a number of useful products, including mixed-alcohol fuels, diesel fuel and polymers, Maverick says.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture made available $181 million to develop commercial-scale biorefineries or retrofit existing facilities with appropriate technology to develop advanced biofuels.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said the financing is intended to expand the number of commercial biorefineries in the US that are producing advanced biofuels from non-food sources.

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