Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are experimenting with a way to convert cellulosic biomass into biobutanol using the bacterium Clostridium beijerinckii.
Biobutanol (butyl alcohol) can become an important renewable transportation fuel because it has a higher energy content than ethanol. It can be used in the existing gasoline supply and distribution lines, has higher octane number, and can be mixed with gasoline in any proportion.
Biobutanol can be readily be produced from any starch source, obtained from annual crops such as corn, rice or barley. However, due to the prohibitive cost of these grains and cereals and because of the need to balance food and fuel production, use of lignocellulosic biomass residues is the way forward.