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National Marine Manufacturers Association endorses Gevo’s biobutanol in marine applications

By National Marine Manufacturers Association

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) today endorsed Gevo, Inc.’s (Nasdaq:GEVO) use of its renewable biobutanol (also known as isobutanol) by the marine industry as an effective, less damaging, more suitable biofuel alternative than ethanol for powering various types of marine and recreational boat engines.

Engine manufacturers from across the recreational boating industry have identified biobutanol as a suitable and safe alternative biofuel to ethanol, a controversial biofuel due to its damaging effects on numerous types of engines, including those that power recreational boats.

“We are very excited that NMMA has shown industry leadership in support of renewable isobutanol," said Gevo CEO Patrick Gruber. "Gevo has been an active partner with NMMA for the past five years and has supplied all the renewable isobutanol and blended fuel used for on-water testing.”

NMMA and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), under the direction and guidance of the U.S. Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory, have been engaged in an industry-supported program to evaluate the performance of recreational marine engines operated on fuel containing up to 16 percent biobutanol. The research and subsequent resolution to formally move forward with butanol as an industry-wide biofuel alternative comes as the industry focuses on addressing the congressionally-mandated Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requiring 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into the gasoline supply by 2022.

The recreational boating industry is highly focused on the need to move towards alternative, renewable fuels and continues to support that effort. However, it is important to find fuel sources that are not only renewable but also safe for all engines and consumers who may use them. Methods to increase renewable fuels in the gasoline supply have primarily focused on ethanol, specifically fuel with a higher blend of ethanol such as E15 (fuel with 15 percent ethanol). Multiple reports show that ethanol blends greater than 10 percent cause significant damage to marine engines. As a result, the marine industry has explored biobutanol fuel blends with very promising results.

“The recreational boating industry is proud to be on the leading edge of renewable fuel research as we continue to work towards a solution for our industry and the many others that are impacted by the RFS,” said John McKnight, senior vice president for government relations at NMMA. ”Our on-water and laboratory testing of biobutanol has been conducted in a wide variety of recreational marine engines and boats, giving us confidence that this fuel is a safe, viable alternative to ethanol.”

Most notably, biobutanol does not phase separate in the presence of water like ethanol. Additional encouraging properties of biobutanol are its higher energy content compared to ethanol and the fact that it has caused no performance-related issues in marine engines.

While large scale consumer availability of biobutanol fuel blends is not expected for another couple of years, the boating industry’s supportive position is poised to encourage its market expansion by providing marine fuel distributors, retailers and consumers with the confidence that this is not only a suitable, but a more compatible fuel for boats.

“I'm thrilled that the entire recreational marine industry could come together to agree on a biofuel that indicates so much promise for our industry,” said Jeff Wasil, engineering manager for emissions testing, certification and regulatory development at Evinrude. “Not only has the industry signed off on the resolution, but it has been very supportive of the efforts over the past several years – stepping up with boats, engines, and people to collaborate in the testing.  We've looked at the situation and offered a real solution for the industry and consumers.”

The testing results for biobutanol have been fully documented in published peer reviewed studies. Those participating in the testing from the recreational boating industry include engine manufacturers  Volvo Penta, Evinrude, Yamaha, Mercury Marine, Honda, Tohatsu and Indmar as well as the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

For more information on biobutanol, visit the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center.

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