With the increase in population our demand for energy is also increasing day by day, hence we are always looking for some alternate source of energy that can fulfill our energy demands. Biobutanol which is a renewable source of energy can help us in achieving this energy security. Biobutanol also known as butyl alcohol is a 4 carbon chained non polar molecule similar to that of gasoline. Despite being from an alcoholic group its energy content is much closer to that of gasoline and hence can be used as the substitute of gasoline as a cleaner fuel.
It can be produced by fermentation of biomass that includes corn, sugarcane, wheat etc., which is also known as acetone–butanol–ethanol process. This process releases hydrogen and some useful byproducts like acetic acid, lactic acid and ethanol. The process uses a special kind of bacteria known as bacterium clostridium acetobutylicum. The second process uses Ralstonia Eutropha (soil bacteria) which requires an electro bioreactor. When mixed with gasoline in proper concentration it can act as the fuel for running vehicles. Butanol if prepared using fossil fuels instead of biomass is known as Petrobutanol. Europe and North America are two major markets for Biobutanol while Asia Pacific and rest of the world are still depending much on the conventional fossil fuels. Although demands of biofuels is rising in global market but the fermentation method is highly inefficient and produces a less amount of Biobutanol, thus scientists are working on tools of genetic engineering to develop a method that can be used to produce a good yield of Biobutanol per gram of glucose and have come out with some solutions to this problem. Besides being used as a fuel it can also be used in producing rubber, solvents, plastics and jet fuels.
Major drivers that can affect the demand of Biobutanol in future are increasing population, policies of different countries that supports or promotes use of renewable as well as clean sources of energy, increasing investments by companies in search of a fuel that has potential to replace bioethanol or even the conventional fossil fuels, increasing efforts by countries in order to achieve energy security in case of oil shocks or price rise beside these factors Biobutanol has some of its own advantages that can propel its market growth these includes high energy content, low vapor pressure and less corossivity. However main restraints to Biobutanol market are expensive refining cost, it is highly toxic, gives bad odor on being hydrolyzed and it hasn’t been commercialized in large scale situation despite its unique qualities. Due to limited presence of non renewable sources of energy like oil, gas and coal, energy hungry countries like China, India, Brazil, and Japan etc can always look towards Biobutanol as the alternative source of energy. With the increase in attention towards the environment especially in United States and Europe use of Biobutanol as a cleaner fuel will be important. The European Union has even created targets for usage of biofuels by its members thus opportunities are in abundance. BP fuelled Biobutanol BMW cars were used during the London Olympics of 2012 which has raised interest of several gasoline retailers in United Kingdom as well as in other part of world.
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Some key players in the market that are producing Biobutanol includes: Arbor Biofuels, Butalco GmBH, Bioenergy International, Butamax advanced Biofuels LLC (DuPont/British Petroleum), Cobalt Biofuels, Gevo Included which is backed by French oil producers Total SA and Richard Branson, Green biologics limited, METabolic Explorer, and TetraVitae Biosciences.