DuPont Invest $58 million in Biofuel Production

DuPont today announced it will invest $58 million in biofuel production assets at two facilities as part of a partnership with BP and British Sugar. This marks the continued progress of the biobutanol initiative first announced in June 2006.

A leader in biofuels research and development, DuPont plans to construct a biobutanol demonstration facility with BP – the first of its kind in the world. In addition, DuPont, BP and British Sugar will construct a 420 million liter ethanol facility that will help meet the United Kingdom’s 2010 Renewable Fuels Obligation. Both facilities will be located at BP’s existing operations at Saltend, Hull, approximately 360 kilometers north of London.

In addition, DuPont and BP will begin to deliver market development quantities of biobutanol to the U.K. by the end of the year to carry out testing on the manufacturing infrastructure and further advance the vehicle testing on this next-generation biofuel. Initial quantities will be sourced from an existing manufacturing facility in China.

“Our strategy is to selectively invest in production facilities globally to meet the demand for biofuels. Today marks the first two investments of this nature,” said DuPont Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Thomas M. Connelly. “We are on track to deliver on the milestones announced in 2006 for biobutanol, specifically market development of biobutanol by the end of this year and introduction of our second-generation technology by 2010.”

Speaking at BP’s offices in London with leaders from BP and British Sugar, DuPont Biofuels Vice President and General Manager John Ranieri said, “Over the last year, we have accelerated the commercial development of biobutanol. The demonstration facility, which is intended to begin operating in early 2009, will develop the processing parameters and further advance the commercial deployment of our new technology. At the same time, the growing market demand for biofuels has been significant. We are concurrently investing in the Hull bioethanol facility with the intention to increase that investment once biobutanol process technology development is completed and conversion feasibility is validated.”

The biobutanol technology research and demonstration facility will be the first in the world designed to develop a range of advanced biofuels, including biobutanol, from feedstocks such as wheat, corn, barley and rye. It is expected to start up in early 2009. DuPont has doubled the number of scientists working on biobutanol R&D over the last 18 months and has filed over 30 patents related to this critical biofuels research program.

The BP/British Sugar/DuPont ethanol plant will include a 10 percent investment by DuPont with the option to increase its share upon conversion of the facility to biobutanol production. This new facility will use locally grown wheat as the feedstock and will have access to the existing infrastructure at the BP Hull site. It is expected to come online in late 2009.

Biobutanol is an advanced biofuel that performs more like unleaded gasoline than traditional biofuels. For example, bench-testing results released earlier this year show that biobutanol has an energy density of around 26 mega-joules per liter (MJ/l), compared to 21-22 MJ/l for bioethanol and 32-33 MJ/l for gasoline. Energy density and energy content are clear indicators of the fuel economy of a vehicle.

In addition, biobutanol can be blended in higher concentrations without the need to modify vehicles. Biobutanol does not phase separate in water, allowing it be transported using existing fuel pipeline infrastructure.

DuPont’s three-part biofuels strategy includes: improving the yield of grain ethanol production through the research and technology expertise of DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred business; conversion of cellulosic feedstocks into biofuels; and production of advanced biofuels with enhanced performance properties to offer global, sustainable options to diversify the transportation energy base.

DuPont – one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals 16 years ago – has broadened its sustainability commitments beyond internal footprint reduction to include market-driven targets for both revenue and research and development investment. The goals are tied directly to business growth, specifically to the development of safer and environmentally improved new products for key global markets, including products based on non-depletable resources, such as biofuels.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type