Gevo begins isobutanol productionby Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — A Colorado company has started the first commercial production of a corn-based alternative to ethanol at a converted plant in southwest Minnesota.
The plant produces isobutanol, an alcohol-like ethanol, that has more uses than the biofuel. Isobutanol is used to make paint, solvents and other products, said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber. It can also be used as a fuel.
Gruber, who grew up in St. Paul and earned a PhD. from the University of Minnesota, said Gevo has contracts to sell nearly all the isobutanol made at its plant in Luverne.
"A lot of its going to go to a company called Sasol," Gruber said. "That's a $38-billion South African chemical company."
Gevo will also sell a small amount of isobutanol in the small engine fuel market, and hopes to expand fuel sales in future years, Gruber said. A second Minnesota ethanol plant, Highwater in Lamberton, is also considering switching production to isobutanol.
The world's first plant to make an industrial chemical from corn has begun production at a former southwest Minnesota ethanol facility. Colorado-based Gevo will sell the isobutanol to makers of paint, solvents, fuel and other products. CEO Pat Gruber says the market for renewable-based materials is growing.
Gevo's stock price jumped 10 percent today after it announced the start of isobutanol production. The company also plans to convert a South Dakota ethanol plant to isobutanol production.