British Sugar to manufacture biobutanol

Paul Boughton

British Sugar Group, part of Associated British Foods plc, has announced a collaboration with BP and DuPont to begin production of the next generation of biofuels in the UK. Production is expected to start in 2007.

Under this agreement, British Sugar's Wissington bioethanol plant, currently under construction in Norfolk, will be converted to the production of biobutanol. The plant will continue to use locally grown sugar beet as the feed stock and the biobutanol produced will be blended with petrol in the UK.

British Sugar, BP and DuPont have also agreed to undertake a joint feasibility study which, subject to successful conclusion, could lead to the construction of much larger facilities for biofuels production using cereal.

Biobutanol will, says British Sugar, “provide environmental benefits over purely mineral oil-derived transportation fuels. It will reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases and is a sustainable alternative for fossil fuels.”

Biobutanol can easily be blended with conventional grades of petrol and can already be used at up to a 10 per cent blend without any modification required to existing vehicle technology. There is potential to increase this concentration in the future. It has an energy content closer to that of petrol than ethanol and so offers better fuel economy than petrol/ethanol blends. Most importantly, it can be easily blended into conventional grades of petrol and has the potential to be incorporated into the existing UK fuel supply infrastructure.

Dr Mark Carr, Chief Executive Officer, British Sugar said: “This is exciting news for the future of renewable fuels and a great opportunity for British Sugar to work with a leading energy company and a major player in the bioscience industry. British Sugar have led the formation of a biofuels manufacturing industry in the UK and we are delighted to be part of this opportunity to be at the forefront of future biofuels manufacture in the UK.”

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