Biobutanol creeps toward the market

New York Times
By Kate Galbraith
A type of fuel once used in Japanese aircraft during World War II is slowly making its way again toward the market, and its backers say that it will work better in automobiles than ethanol.

DuPont and BP hope to produce the fuel, called biobutanol, on a commercial scale starting in 2013. They are currently testing it in Britain, where a demonstration-scale plant should start operations at the end of next year, according to Nick Fanandakis of DuPont’s applied biosciences division.
A BP-DuPont takeover of an American biobutanol maker received regulatory approval from the European Commission last week.
The fuel — butyl alcohol derived from plant materials rather than fossil fuels — is being pursued by other companies as well. Last November, a private equity company, Patriarch Partners, purchased a shuttered pulp mill in Maine, with the purpose of refitting it to produce biobutanol derived from maple, birch and beech tree chips.

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