Biobutanol from wood the next generation of biofuels

To deal with the increasing scarcity of fuel, scientists at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) are researching ways to turn wood into sustainable biobutanol that can be pumped into automobile gas tanks.

Researchers in the college’s Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering are experimenting with different strains of bacteria that can ferment sugars extracted from wood into biobutanol.

Researchers believe biobutanol – more efficient than ethanol in producing energy and easier to add to the existing gasoline distribution infrastructure – could be the emerging biofuel of the future.

“ESF is working on producing alternative biofuels from locally produced resources. We use wood,” said Timothy Volk of ESF’s Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management.

“Biobutanol is one of the next generation of biofuels,” he said.

“Butanol has a higher energy density than ethanol and it can be pumped right into the existing gas pipeline. Going to a higher percentage of ethanol means a new delivery system,” he said.

“Ethanol is less efficient and harder to mix with regular gas,” he added.

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