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Gevo partners with Musket Corp., brings isobutanol to the West

By Brianna Liestman

Isobutanol producer Gevo, Inc. recently signed a contract with Musket Corp. a national fuel distributor and logistics firm that is part of the Love’s Family of Companies, to have Musket Corp. blend Gevo’s isobutanol with gasoline for its marine and off-road customers.

Musket Corp. will initially offer this fuel in Arizona, Nevada and Utah. Love’s has a strong presence in the West, particularly in the Havasu, Ariz., market.

Campbell Cove 1 Stop, a launch ramp located before the Lake Havasu State Park in Arizona and a Gevo customer, has been selling the isobutanol blend for a couple months and has seen positive results in the market.

“The more I learned about it, the more it just seemed like a common sense approach. Ethanol is just a big problem in the boating industry and the fuel industry in general,” said Jim Dolan, owner of Campbell Cove 1 Stop. “With the amount of boats we have come through here, I definitely saw a demand for it.”

While the isobutanol-blended fuel is about 50 cents more that Campbel Cove’s non-ethanol product, Dolan finds customers are willing to pay the price for the value of the product.

“For the boater that has the high-end … boat, I don’t think he worries about it as much, because the cost of repairing an engine problem is a lot more than buying better fuel, and I think they understand that,” he said.

Last year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association endorsed Gevo’s fuel as an effective, less damaging and more suitable biofuel alternative. Ethanol has been determined to be poorly suited for marine applications due to its tendency for phase separation.

“Ethanol in gasoline, if it’s dry and keeps the water away from it, it can work pretty effectively in lots of applications. So on-road use at moderate elevations, no problem,” said Gevo CEO Patrick R. Gruber, Ph.D. “But if you’re in a humid environment or if you have tanks that have been sitting around, or it’s in contact with water, you can get moisture in there and the ethanol starts to migrate out into the water. That changes the performance of the gasoline and it changes the octane level, and our boat engines don’t work as well like that.”

Isobutanol, in contrast, does not separate because “it has a higher energy content, it has a high-octane level itself and it’s more compatible with these engines,” added Gruber. “Here’s an option where you can have a biofuel containing product, so it’s compliant with all the regulatory stuff, without sacrificing performance at all. That’s worthwhile.”

One of Campbell Cove 1 Stop’s customers, who works are Havasu Customs, decided to run a dynamometer, or Dyno, test comparing the 91-octane isobutanol-blended fuel with regular 91-octane fuel. The customer reported back extreme excitement over the isobutanol, as he got lower exhaust temperature results with the Gevo fuel.

“It’s definitely been a great response from the custom guys in town that really fine-tune these motors to get every piece of horsepower out of it,” said Dolan.

Gevo is hoping to expand the fuel in areas such as the Upper Midwest, Florida, the Upper Northeast and more. The company also recently announced that is has branched into on-road fuels in the Houston market.

“We have volume that we could send that direction, [or] next year we will, and we’d like to do it,” said Gruber. “We only have production capacity of about a million and a half gallons per year.”

Gevo is currently working on expansions for its Laverne plant, with the intention to begin the project in mid-2017 and spend 18 to 24 months completing the renovations so the company can produce larger volumes of isobutanol.

For more information about bringing isobutanol to your marker, contact Greg Roda, vice president/commercial director for isobutanol at Gevo, at 303-260-9992 and groda@gevo.com.

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