The development of a new type of fuel could provide Iowa corn growers with another market for their grain. DuPont, the parent company of Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International, is partnering with B-P to start producing what it calls biobutanol.
Pioneer’s Desiree Fletcher-Hayes says the fuel has similarities with ethanol, but with a few key differences. Fletcher-Hayes says biobutanol has properties that make it a high-performance fuel but it’s produced from agricultural feedstocks like corn, wheat and sugar beets, much like ethanol. While ethanol reduces a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, she says biobutanol increases efficiency.
Also, the ethanol blend E-85 requires a special engine type, while biobutanol will work in any car. Fletcher-Hayes says an ethanol plant in England is being converted to make biobutanol, which should be on the U.K. market in 2007. She says butanol has been around for some time but the new version, bio-butanol, is more environmentally-friendly and it’s more economical, plus, it can be made from renewable sources.
Fletcher-Hayes says the project is all overseas for now but she sees biobutanol coming to the U.S. eventually for domestic production and use as another way to eliminate America’s reliance on foreign oil. Fletcher-Hayes says biobutanol isn’t an alternative to ethanol, it’s a complement to ethanol, “but the great thing for growers is that it will be an opportunity to expand markets for their grains once it is available on a wider basis.”
Biobutanol costs more than ethanol to make, but she says biobutanol can be shipped through pipelines, unlike ethanol. Biobutanol reportedly would qualify for the same federal price subsidies as ethanol — of about 50-cents a gallon.