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Information @ a Glance


  • Butanol is a 4-carbon alcohol (butyl alcohol).
  • Biobutanol is butanol produced from biomass feedstocks.
  • Biobutanol, an advanced biofuel, offers a number of advantages and can help accelerate biofuel adoption in countries around the world.
  • Biobutanol also can be burned in higher concentrations, possibly up to 100%, without having to modify vehicle engines.

Production & Process

  • Biobutanol is an alcohol that can be produced through processing of domestically grown crops, such as corn and sugar beets, and other biomass, such as fast-growing grasses and agricultural waste products.
  • Biobutanol production is currently more expensive than ethanol so it has not been commercialized on a large scale.
  • The UK's first ethanol femantation facility is converted to produce 30,000 tonnes annually of biobutanol made from sugar beets.
  • Production of biobutanol is similar to ethanol and uses similar feedstocks, existing ethanol capacity can be retrofitted to produce biobutanol.


  • Biobutanol's primary use is as an industrial solvent in products such as lacquers and enamels.
  • Biobutanol is a liquid alcohol fuel that can be used in today's gasoline-powered internal combustion engines.
  • Biobutanol is also compatible with ethanol blending and can improve the blending of ethanol with gasoline.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced because carbon dioxide captured when the feedstock crops are grown balances carbon dioxide released when biobutanol is burned.


  • Biobutanol plants operated in numerous countries, including the United States, UK, China, Russia, South Africa and India, during the first two World Wars.
  • The growth of the petroleum industry and the cheaper cost of producing butanol from petroleum products rather than renewable feedstocks made the biobased butanol plant obsolete.
  • Compared to ethanol, biobutanol is less volatile, not sensitive to water, less hazardous to handle, less flammable, has a slightly higher octane
    number, and can be mixed with gasoline in any proportion. However, its high production costs - resulting in an average cost of $3.75/gal - have prevented its widespread use as a fuel.

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