Butamax is a joint venture between BP (formerly British Petroleum) and DuPont to develop biobutanol. The company was formed in 2009 and based in Wilmington, Delaware, US.
Butamax has developed technology for deriving butanol from sugar and biomass feedstock such as corn and sugarcane. Technology is closely guarded as the company is in a patent dispute with Gevo (a biobutanol producer in the United States), but consists of genetically modified yeast and bacteria. Currently the organisms cannot produce biobutanol from lignocellulosic material, a area that Butamax is actively working to address.
Testing has shown that blends of up to 16% biobutanol (the maximum currently allowed in the United States) produced from Butamax technology can provide superior combustion. The blend provides the same full economy as a 10% blend of ethanol, but doubles the amount of energy in the mixture that comes from “renewable sources.” The company is engaged in lifecycle analysis to track the GHG emissions impact of using butanol versus ethanol. Given similar feedstock and production facilities, butanol should reduce GHG emissions.