Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No. 62: A new biofuel comes to the Japanese market in 2013 (November 22, 2010)

A new biofuel jointly developed by BP of Great Britain and DuPont of the U.S. is scheduled to be introduced into the Japanese market in 2013. The new product is not easily mixed with water, and the existing gas stations can sell it without modifying the facilities. The two companies plan to market this product as the vehicle fuel following bioethanol. Called biobutanol, it is mainly made of sugarcane. They will provide the production know-how to companies currently producing bioethanl to expand the market worldwide. Biobutanol will be put on the U.S. market in 2012 under the brand name of Butamax, and subsequently will be put on the Japanese market in 2013.

Biobutanol produces fewer by-products in production than bioethanol, and it can shorten the production process considerably. In addition, it has higher energy density than bioethanol. The former has two thirds of energy amount per volume of gasoline, but the latter has more than 80% of energy amount per volume of gasoline. The two companies will produce butanol in Southeast or in Brazil and ship the finished products by sea. The energy amount consumed in production and transportation is small. It can satisfy the environmental standards required by the Japanese government, and it can be sold at nearly the same price as bioethanol per calorie.

Oil distributors put “bio gasoline” that contains a chemical compound of bioethanol called Ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) on the market in 2007, and increased the number of sales bases to increase the sales volume to date. However, new capital investments are required to expand the production of ETBE. Amid the growing demand for larger production of ETBE, a new type of biofuel is expected to be in greater demand in the future.

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