The Environmental Protection Agency has given the green light to bio- isobutanol for use in the U.S. fuel supply.
The biofuel additive “will provide consumers a safe, efficient, and environmentally-friendly E15 alternative that is highly compatible with marine products. This decision will promote an innovative fuel supply, with direct benefits to American boaters and consumers,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich.
“While additional steps by EPA are needed to break down other regulatory impediments to the full-scale commercialization of bio-isobutanol, EPA’s recent actions are very encouraging,” said Dammrich in a statement. “In addition to increased fuel options, we need a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign in place prior to any E15 expansion – we owe it to the millions of American boaters and the 650,000 workers that the industry supports.”
John McKnight, NMMA senior vice president for environmental policy, told the Washington Examiner last week that he, the Department of Energy and U.S. Coast Guard had studied biobutanol, the renewable form of isobutanol, for years.
Pictured in the article was McKnight on board a biobutanol-powered Premier pontoon powered by an Evinrude.
The Coast Guard's research division advised a few years ago that the branch closely "monitor the commercial production capability of biobutanol" as it enters the market and, once available, begin adding it as a requirement when buying new engines, the article said.
BP, in a partnership global chemical giant DuPont, is preparing to introduce the fuel commercially, with production ramping up in the coming months.
Unlike E15, which causes damage to small engines like those used in recreational boating, biobutanol delivers more renewable energy content than ethanol while remaining compatible with current vehicles, boats, and infrastructure.
According to the NMMA, 95 percent of boats are fueled at retail gas stations. Misfueling of engines voids warranties, leaving consumers with expensive repair and replacement bills — and 65 percent of Americans assume gas sold at stations is safe for all engines.
Biobutanol is a four-carbon alcohol produced from renewable, plant-derived energy sources in a fermentation process similar to beer and wine production. Biobutanol can be produced using existing ethanol feedstocks, such as corn and sugar beets, or advanced feedstocks (cellulosic biomass) such as crop residues, wood residues, dedicated energy crops, and industrial and other wastes.