Research funding for a new type of more efficient biofuel has been announced today.
The Department for Trade and Industry is funding Oxfordshire-based Green Biologics with £250,000 to develop a cheaper way to manufacture biobutanol. The company has also secured a further £310,000 investment to develop the process.
Currently, biobutanol isn't used in biofuels because it costs too much to produce. It is more efficient than bioethanol fuels, such as E85, so it would return more miles to the gallon. Bioethanol is an alcohol derived from crops.
It less corrosive than ethanol, so more cars could run on richer biobutanol/petrol blends without the need for adaptation.
It's also easier to store and transport, so is more attractive to petrol retailers. BP has already announced its intention to start introducing petrol blended with more-expensively produced biobutanol at its 1200 forecourts throughout 2007. Bioethanol E85 fuel is currently only available at a handful of Morrisons supermarket forecourts.
Green Biologics reckons its new manufacturing method could slash production costs by a third and put its pump price on a par with ethanol. It says it will be ready with trails within six to nine months, with production starting in around 12 months.
The European Commission wants 5.75% of fuel sold to be biofuel by 2010. Currently biofuels make up 0.5% of the market, but the UK Government reckons it can stimulate growth to 2.5% by 2008/9, 3.75% by 2009/10 and 5% 2010/11.
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