OVERVIEW: The development of innovative methods to efficiently convert biomass to fuels and industrial chemicals is one of the grand challenges of the current age. n-Butanol is a versatile and sustainable platform chemical that can be produced from a variety of waste biomass sources. The emergence of new technologies for the production of fuels and chemicals from butanol will allow it to be a significant component of a necessarily dynamic and multifaceted solution to the current global energy crisis.
IMPACT: The production of butanol from biomass and its utilization as a precursor to a diverse set of fuel products has the potential to reduce petroleum use worldwide. In concert with other emerging renewable technologies, significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may be realized. The rapid incorporation of renewables into the world fuel supply may also help to offset predicted increases in transportation fuel prices as the supply of oil declines.
APPLICATIONS: Recent work has shown that butanol is a potential gasoline replacement that can also be blended in significant quantities with conventional diesel fuel. These efforts have transitioned to research focused on the development of viable methods for the production of an array of oxygenated and fully saturated jet and diesel fuels from butanol. The technologies discussed in this paper will help drive the commercialization and utilization of a spectrum of butanol based sustainable fuels that can supplement and partially displace conventional petroleum derived fuels. Published 2010 by John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.