Gevo begins to supply isobutanol-blended gasoline to US Coast Guard

Gevo has begun supplying the research and development (R&D) center of the US Coast Guard with initial quantities of finished 16.1% renewable isobutanol-blended gasoline for engine testing, the company confirmed on Wednesday.

"Gevo's proprietary isobutanol-blended gasoline is truly a drop-in fuel, deliberately designed to be fully compliant with marine fuel specifications, including fit-for-purpose properties," said Patrick Gruber, Gevo's CEO.

"Isobutanol's low-water solvency and non-corrosive characteristics will offer consumers a high-performance, renewable biofuel ideally suited for a wide variety of marine engine applications," he added.

The R&D center is using the Gevo-blended fuel as part of a 12-month, long-term operational study on marine engines that began during June.

The testing is being performed under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between the US Coast Guard, Honda and Mercury. It will focus on two of the Coast Guard's platform boats -- a 38-foot special purpose craft-training boat and a 25-foot small response boat.

"This testing will validate isobutanol-blended gasoline as a clean-burning, homegrown, drop-in fuel for marine applications," Gruber said. "As we accelerate our full-scale commercial production efforts at the world's first renewable isobutanol plant in Luverne, Minn., we are extremely excited to be working with a partner like the US Coast Guard to evaluate and develop a product line of high-performance, isobutanol-based fuel blends for the marine engine market."

The Coast Guard completed a 3-month round of testing in Florida earlier this year under the CRADA with Honda engines running on fuel supplied by Gevo with 16.1% renewable isobutanol. Engines were run at full throttle for an 8-hour day for several months and then broken down and inspected.

"We are pleased so far with our testing of isobutanol as a potential alternative to ethanol as a blend stock in gasoline for marine applications," said Mike Coleman, project manager at the Coast Guard's R&D center. 

"Isobutanol is a biofuel that compared to ethanol, has higher energy density, lower RVP, and does not present phase separation issues seen with ethanol," he continued.

"All testing so far has been positive, and when the Yorktown tests are completed next year, we expect to have the information available to allow a decision on whether 16.1% isobutanol fuel blends will be certified for use in the Coast Guard gasoline engine fleet."

Testing will take place at the US Coast Guard's training center in Yorktown, Virginia.

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