Butanol consists of a longer hydrocarbon chain which helps it to exhibit non-polar properties to some extent. Butanol offers similar characteristics to that of gasoline than that compared to the ethanol. Butanol is mainly used as an internal combustion for engines. Butanol is a four link hydrocarbon chain that is produced from biomass as bio-butanol or from the fossil fuel as petrobutanol. Bio-butanol and petrobutanol are known to have same chemical properties. Butanol is known for its less tolerance against water contamination and hence, is extremely less corrosive than ethanol and thus, making it easily transportable through pipes.
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Bio-butanol or bio-based butanol fuel is a next generation alcoholic fuel which offers lower volatility and high energy density as compared to ethanol. The growing environmental awareness coupled with increasing governmental stringent regulations are expected to boost the overall demand for bio butanol market over the next few years. Increasing environmental concern towards petroleum derived products has prompted manufacturers to develop alternate methods to manufacture bio-based chemicals from biomass rather than from the petroleum feedstock. Moreover, the volatile petroleum derived raw material prices has further augmented the overall need to develop chemicals from the easily available and cheap bio-based feedstock. Bio-butanol can be produced in large quantities at an extremely competitive price using bio-based raw materials such as sugarcane, corn and cellulosic sugars among others. The growing demand for butanol for various applications such as sealants, textiles, adhesives, plastics, paints and coatings among others is expected to boost the overall need to manufacture butanol from other sustainable and alternate methods. Thus, many manufacturers are expected to search for alternate methods especially for manufacturing butanol from bio based raw material in-order to satisfy the huge demand for the chemical in the market.
The growing demand for bio-based butanol can be attributed to the advantages that it offers as a fuel. These advantages include energy content almost equivalent to gasoline, non-hydroscopic, compatible with existing engine systems and storage infrastructure, low vapor pressure and utility as feedstock for diesel, jet fuel and bio-gasoline. Owing to such benefits, bio-based butanol is widely used as a biofuel in transportation and other industries and as a biochemical paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, printing inks, textiles and plastics. Moreover, bio-based butanol can be blended at 16% by volume while ethanol can only be blended at 10% by volume. This ultimately generates significant renewable identification numbers (RINs) for the refiners. Furthermore, bio-based butanol can be blended at the refinery itself and transported in existing pipelines while ethanol is generally blended downstream at terminals. This subsequently eliminates the need for refiners to buy RINs from the independent blenders and this usually turns out to be a costly proposal for the refiners. In addition, as compared to conventional butanol, bio-based butanol can be manufactured with high sustainability, in greater quantities and at a highly competitive cost. In the initial stages, the major market for butanol would be for high value chemicals while after reduction in the manufacturing costs, the market would certainly expand to other chemical derivatives as well. All these factors are acting in the favor of bio-based butanol and hence, driving its demand across the globe.
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Some of the key participants in the bio-based butanol market include Butamax, Cobalt Technologies, METabolic Explorer, Sovert, Butyl Fuel LLC, Gevo, Plantaonix, Laxmi Organics, Cathay Industrial Biotech, Butalco GmBH, W2 Energy, Energy Quest, ZeaChem, Green Biologics and Syntech Biofuel among others.