It may have escaped your notice, but there was big news earlier this week on the alternative fuel front.
Isobutanol — a safer and more efficient alternative to ethanol — could soon be making its way to a lot more marinas as producer Gevo signed a deal with ValvTect to distribute isobutanol-blended fuels.
Marine industry testing has shown isobutanol (or biobutanol) to be “an effective, less damaging, more suitable biofuel alternative than ethanol for powering various types of marine and recreational boat engines,” according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which earlier this year endorsed the fuel for marine applications.
Gevo began selling the fuel at its first marina, Harbor Marina at Lake Pomme de Terre in Missouri, earlier this summer, but the new deal will allow Gevo to reach ValvTect’s network of more than 700 marinas.
I’ve been covering the ethanol issue for the last few years, and isobutanol has long been discussed by those in the marine industry as potential savior for boat engines. With 15 percent ethanol already available at some roadside stands, there has long been a concern about its potential to damage marine engines, as shown by industry research. (We’ve been covering the issue extensively, but here is the most recent in-depth article if you need to catch up.)
The industry has been fighting ethanol on many fronts, from legal to legislative, but a market-based solution is one that makes the most sense. The reality is that as much as some would like to go back to a no-biofuel world, that’s not likely to happen, but this could be the first step toward a better biofuel for boaters.