Unlike ethanol, butanol is less corrosive, doesn’t attract moisture which can cause harmful “phase separation” of the fuel, and can be mixed in ahead of time and shipped through existing pipelines. It has a higher energy value (110,000 Btu per gallon versus ethanol’s 84,000 Btu), and is safer because its flammability is similar to diesel fuel. So why aren’t America’s boaters, motorists and gas-powered tool and toy owners using butanol?
“Part of the answer is how the stuff is – or was – made,” wrote BoatUS Seaworthy Magazine Editor and Damage Avoidance Expert Bob Adriance. He says, “Back in the 1980’s when the government was looking at biofuels, the cost to produce butanol was much higher than ethanol. Congress also gave ethanol a head start 30 years ago with a subsidy to produce it from corn. However, the subsidy is now expired and new technologies have made the costs to produce both fuels similar, although butanol is ultimately far less expensive to produce in terms of the amount of energy delivered per gallon.”
“With its new cost competitiveness and energy advantages, butanol could be a biofuel that boaters embrace,” said Adriance. “However, we need to find out more about any potential long-term effects, and would need to overcome the not-too-insignificant reality of ethanol’s financial and political momentum in the market today.”
About BoatUS: BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money-saving services. For membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628