Wednesday, August 18, 2010

new biofuel re-discovered : butanol

Butanol or (n-Butanol to be precise) is not a new chemical. It used to be distilled in the 1900's for industrial purposes. It turns out it could be a new biofuel

  • With 4 carbons, butanol has more energy than ethanol - 25% more energy per unit volume.
  • Butanol has a lower vapour pressure and higher flashpoint than ethanol, making it easier to store and safer to handle.
  • Butanol is not hygroscopic while ethanol attracts water. Ethanol has to be blended with petrol shortly before use. Butanol can be blended at a refinery without requiring modifications in blending facilities, storage tanks or retail station pumps.
  • Butanol can run in unmodified engines at any blend with petrol. Ethanol can only be blended up to 85% and requires engine modification.
  • Unlike ethanol, butanol may also be blended with diesel and biodiesel.
  • Butanol is less corrosive than ethanol and can be transported using existing infrastructures.


Butanol can be made from non food crops. Here's an example, butanol distilled from leftovers of whiskey production.

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