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Japanese Researchers Find Ways To Produce Biobutanol More Efficiently


Butanol can be made greener by the research of a Japanese institute, who developed an energy-saving biobutanol with a density of at least 80 percent. They derived their biobutanol from a 1 percent concentrated butanol and used a zeolitic separation membrane.

Being derived from biomass sources, biobutanol’s overall carbon emissions are zero, since the carbon dioxide it emits when burned is reabsorbed by the next biofuel crops. Unlike ethanol, which has a relatively smaller energy density (27 MJ/kg), biobutanol has 34 MJ/kg and has the same cost per calorific value. Moreover, biobutanol is easier to store and the tanks don’t have to have special designs. It doesn’t mix with water, like ethanol, which is a plus.

The biomass can be used more effectively, because the microorganisms that can produce biobutanol can use a sugar (named C5) which the ones involved in the production of ethanol can’t.

Even more, the energy required to collect butanol decreases by 50 to 70 percent because the researchers synthesized a silicalite separation membrane with a high alcohol permselectivity. They also could collect high density butanol from low-density butanol, which let increased productivity.

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  1. Butanol has long been known to be superior to ethanol for blending as an oxygenator and gasolne extender, but we could not produce it competitively, so ethanol got the nod. That is changeing.

    Expect our ethanol distilleries to be converted to butanol and butanol to replace ethanol as the legally required oxygenator for gasoline.

    This will take a few years to happen, but the process is already beginning, with both ethanol plant conversions and brand new butanol plants now under construction.


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