Gevo, Inc. announced recently that it has begun the retrofit of its ethanol facility in Luverne, Minnesota, to produce biobased isobutanol. This milestone brings the company one step closer to commercial-scale production. The retrofit, which is expected to be complete by next summer, will make this facility the world’s first commercial-scale biobased isobutanol plant.
“Isobutanol made from renewable raw materials can be used to make a variety of everyday products such as rubber, plastics and fuel, and is a versatile solution to help displace our country’s dependency on petroleum and create a biobased economy,” said Patrick Gruber, Ph.D., CEO of Gevo. “Through this retrofit, Gevo is providing a high-value product that supports our nation’s agriculture industry.”
Biobased isobutanol has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to end the United States’ dependency on petroleum because it is a drop in replacement for a variety of products. It can be sold in the marketplace as both a solvent chemical and a fuel blendstock, or it can be converted into four carbon building blocks called butenes, which can be used to make 40 percent of all petrochemicals and a 100 percent of all hydrocarbon fuels.
Gevo acquired the Luverne, Minnesota plant, which has an isobutanol production capacity of 18 million gallons per year, from Agri-Energy LLC in September 2010. Currently, the plant has 27 employees.