BP Olympic Biofuel Debut

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted July 19, 2012

The London 2012 Olympics will be interesting for all sorts of reasons. Now you can count biofuels into that.

BP (LON: BP) announced that it will test out a new biofuel, called biobutanol, developed jointly with Dupont, on the official London 2012 fleet. The fleet, supplied by BMW, numbers around 5,000 vehicles.

Biobutanol uses a microorganism to generate a high-density petrol biofuel through converted plant sugars.

According to BP, along with the usual green advantages of a biofuel, biobutanol averages higher mileage and is more widely compatible with existing engines and oil systems. It has an 85 percent energy efficiency over gasoline, higher than normal ethanol’s 66 percent.

GreenWise reports:

“Biobutanol is the poster child in terms of consumer benefits—it’s the next evolution of the gasoline biofuel,” said Philip New, CEO of BP Biofuels. “It has a much higher energy density than ethanol so people will get more miles to the gallon and the other key benefit is that it’s got great compatibility with all the infrastructure we use today, whether that is refineries and pipelines or terminals. It’s also got great compatibility with today’s engines so it really is a ‘drop-in’ solution, and therefore you can use more of it so you are able to get more biomass into your tank rather than fuel without modifying your engine.”

The London trials will feature a gasoline blend that has 24 percent biobutanol; currently, biobutanol is being used at lower-percentage (15-16) blends in Germany, France, and the U.S.

According to BP, not only are higher blends feasible, but existing bioethanol plants can be reconfigured for commercial-scale biobutanol production.

This biobutanol comes from a demonstration facility in Hull, and it uses corn from local farms as its source.

BP will also showcase two other biofuels at the Olympics.

One is cellulosic ethanol, in which a microorganism breaks down the fiber in woody plants and ferments it to generate ethanol. The other is sugar-to-diesel, S2D, in which sugar is converted into bio-oil, which is subsequently converted to ‘green’ oil.

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