Butanol (butyl alcohol) is an organic compound used largely as an industrial solvent. However, when it is produced using biological materials (biomass) for feedstocks, it is called biobutanol and is no different than butanol produced using fossil fuels like oil. Since it relies on sunlight and photosynthesis to contribute to the growth of that biomass (plants, grasses, corn, wheat, etc), biobutanol is a renewable fuel.

For a variety of reasons, it is an emerging player in the field of advanced, transportation biofuels.


Liquid, clear, colorless, biodegradable, low toxicity.


Biobutanol is produced by anaerobic digestion. Microorganisms decompose biomass in a closed container; one of the byproducts is biobutanol.

Fuel Blends

It can be blended with gasoline (and with gasoline and ethanol) in any ratio, although a common blend is B11.5. It possibly can be blended with diesel fuel, although no substantial studies exist to support this.

Currently, adding biobutanol to conventional gas tanks, in any ratio, is not protected by vehicle warranties.


Since biobutanol doesn’t appear to create corrosion or water contamination in the way that ethanol does, biobutanol could use the current gasoline pipeline infrastructure as well as road transport system.

Compared to Diesel

Biobutanol has a higher energy content and many believe it can replace gasoline gallon for gallon, meaning it doesn’t need to be blended.

The Future

Dupont and BP have joined forces to develop biobutanol (among other biofuels) and ButylFuel, LLC3 is a recent technology that appears to make the fermentation process substantially more economically viable.

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