Gevo, Inc

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Gevo, Inc.
IndustryRenewable chemicals and advanced biofuels
HeadquartersDouglas County, Colorado, United States
Area served
Key people
Patrick R. Gruber
(Chief Executive Officer)
Chris Ryan
(President & COO, CTO)
Brett Lund
(Executive Vice President and General Counsel)
ProductsIsobutanol (biobutanol) and hydrocarbon derivatives Edit this on Wikidata

Gevo, Inc. is a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company headquartered in unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado in the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area. The company develops bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based products using a combination of biotechnology and classical chemistry. Gevo converts renewable raw materials into isobutanol and renewable hydrocarbons that Gevo believes can be directly integrated on a “drop in” basis into existing fuel and chemical products.[1] Gevo’s investors include Burrill & Company, Khosla Ventures, Lanxess, Osage University Partners, Total, and Virgin Green Fund, among others.

Economics of isobutanol production[edit]

Isobutanol is a four-carbon (C
) alcohol that can be directly used as a specialty chemical or a value-added fuel blendstock.[2] It can also be converted into butenes, using simple dehydration chemistry deployed in the refining and petrochemicals industries today. Butenes are primary hydrocarbon feedstocks that are used in the production of plastics, fibers, rubber, other polymers and hydrocarbon fuels.

Isobutanol produced from renewable raw materials may be a competitively priced alternative source of C
hydrocarbons for the petrochemical and refining industries. Over the last decade, fermentable sugars had lower cost volatility than petroleum, which is important to industrial C
consumers who are seeking less volatile sources that might be used to hedge equivalent petroleum-derived materials. Isobutanol and its derivatives have potential applications in approximately 40 percent of the global petrochemicals market. Manufacturers can replace petroleum-derived raw materials with isobutanol-derived raw materials without modification to their equipment or production processes. Additionally, the final products produced from isobutanol-based raw materials are chemically equivalent to those produced from petroleum-based raw materials and may help reduce the time to market adoption.[3]

Technology, engineering and production[edit]

Gevo has developed technology to retrofit existing ethanol production plants to produce isobutanol. Gevo’s Integrated Fermentation Technology, or GIFT,[4] is an integrated technology platform for the efficient production and separation of isobutanol. GIFT consists of two components, proprietary biocatalysts that convert sugars derived from multiple renewable feedstocks into isobutanol through fermentation, and a proprietary separation unit that is designed to continuously separate isobutanol from water during the fermentation process. Gevo developed its technology platform to be compatible with the existing approximately 20 BGPY (Billion Gallons per Year) of global operating ethanol production capacity, as estimated by the Renewable Fuels Association. GIFT is designed to allow relatively low capital expenditure retrofits of existing ethanol facilities, enabling a rapid and cost-efficient route to isobutanol production from the fermentation of renewable feedstocks.[5] Gevo is also developing biocatalysts to convert sugars derived from biomass to produce cellulosic isobutanol once the conversion technology is commercially viable. Gevo plans to expand its production capacity beyond its initial commercial facility to produce and sell over 500 million gallons of isobutanol by 2014.

  • Demonstration facility in St. Joseph: Gevo’s production process was demonstrated in September 2009 on a commercially relevant scale with the retrofit of ICM’s 1 MGPY(Million Gallons per Year) ethanol facility in St. Joseph, Missouri.[6] This demonstration project illustrates that Gevo’s model for repurposing ethanol plants for scalable production of isobutanol can be accomplished rapidly and with a low up-front capital investment.
  • First commercial production facility: In September 2010, Gevo acquired ownership of a 22 MGPY ethanol production facility in Luverne, Minnesota.[7] Gevo anticipates beginning its retrofit of the Luverne facility in the fourth quarter of 2010. Commercial production of isobutanol is expected to begin at the Luverne facility in the first half of 2012.[8]

Target markets[edit]

Most of the technology necessary to convert isobutanol into plastics, fibers, rubber, other polymers and hydrocarbon fuels is known and practiced in the chemicals industry today. Gevo’s commercialization efforts are focused on the following markets:

  • Isobutanol — Without any modification, isobutanol has applications as a specialty chemical and a fuel blendstock. In the fuel blendstock market, isobutanol can be used to replace high-value blendstocks, such as alkylate, and can be blended in conjunction with, or as a substitute for, ethanol and other widely used fuel oxygenates.[9] In November 2010, Gevo became the first company to receive EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) certification for isobutanol as a fuel blendstock after meeting the EPA’s standards under the Clean Air Act.[10] The global gasoline oxygenate market is approximately 40 BGPY, based upon data from the International Energy Agency (IEA). While isobutanol can be used as a replacement for ethanol, its product properties are significantly differentiated from ethanol. As a gasoline blendstock, isobutanol’s low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), high energy content and low water solubility compared to ethanol make it a valuable product that can be sold directly to refiners and is compatible with existing engine and industry infrastructure, including pipeline assets. Isobutanol can also be sold for immediate use as a specialty solvent. This global market for butanol represents approximately 1.1 BGPY, based upon volume data from SRI.
  • Plastics, Fibers, Rubber and other Polymers — Isobutanol can be converted into a wide variety of hydrocarbons that form the basis for the production of many products, including rubber, lubricants, additives, methyl methacrylate, polypropylenes, polyesters, and polystyrene, representing an aggregate potential market for isobutanol of approximately 67 BGPY, based upon volume data from SRI, CMAI and Nexant.
  • Hydrocarbon Fuels — Alternatively, the hydrocarbons that can be produced from isobutanol can be used to manufacture jet and diesel fuel, as well as other hydrocarbon fuels. The hydrocarbon fuels that can be produced from isobutanol collectively represent a potential market for isobutanol of over 900 BGPY, based upon volume data from IEA.


  1. ^ "The Post-Alcohol World". The Economist. October 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  2. ^ Leber, Jessica (January 13, 2010). "Biobutanol Firm Aims to Compete with Ethanol in 4 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  3. ^ Canter, Neil (July 1, 2008). "A Second-Generation Biofuel". AllBusiness. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  4. ^ Gevo | Our Technology
  5. ^ Pentland, William (March 20, 2008). "Beyond Ethanol". Forbes. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  6. ^ "Gevo Announces First Retrofit of Ethanol Demonstration Plant to Biobutanol for the Oil and Chemical Industries". Gevo. September 30, 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  7. ^ "Mergers & Acquisitions". Star Tribune. August 15, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  8. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (10 March 2011). "Ethanol Plant Is Switching to Butanol". New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  9. ^ "From 1st- to 2nd-Generation Biofuel Technologies" (PDF). International Energy Agency. November 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  10. ^ "Gevo's isobutanol receives EPA registration". Ethanol Producer Magazine. November 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-08.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]