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Start-up of biobased isobutanol plant announced by Gevo

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US renewable chemicals and next-generation biofuels company Gevo has begun start-up of what it is calling the world’s first commercial biobased isobutanol production plant.

Based in Luverne, Minnesota Gevo broke ground on the project a year ago and reached its goal of initiating production of biobased isobutanol  at commercial level within 12 months.

‘The startup of this plant represents a major milestone for the industry and validation of our commitment to commercially produce biobased isobutanol in the first half of 2012,’ says Gevo CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. ‘The next milestone will be to successfully ship product to our customers.’

The company retrofitted the Luverne plant to incorporate its proprietary yeast and fermentation technology systems to produce the biobased isobutanol. It expects to continue producing isobutanol at a run rate of approximately 1 million gallons per month while learning how to produce the biobased alternative on a large scale.

Gevo expects to reach full-capacity run rates by the end of 2013.

‘This ramp up in production is actually fast for a new technology,’ adds Gruber. ‘It would be much longer and present more execution risk if this were a greenfield plant, so I like this retrofit approach.’