date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 09:58:45 +0100
from: "robin smith" <robin.smithatXYZxyzst.ac.uk>
subject: Re: (Fwd) Fwd: Bio Fuels
It depends what exactly they want as to whether we can help
them. We can handle the manufacturing side of biofuel production
but not the agricultural side. It is not at all clear what they want.
Bio-ethanol is used as a gasoline additive in the USA. There it is
uneconomic but maintained on the basis of agricultural subsides. I
suspect they are wanting to know whether it is worthwhile
switching some of their business to biofuels. There are many
1) How much can they produce?
2) What would be the cost of production (presumably from sugar
beet)? We could help them with this.
3) What is the UK market potential?
4) How is the future policy on gasoline regulations likely to affect
the market? This is the real uncertainty. If future regulations reduce
aromatics in gasoline and ban the addition of ethers (e.g. MTBE)
then a substitute is needed. Ethanol and methanol are both
possibilities. However, you can make ethanol and methanol
chemically as well as biochemically. Manufacture of additional
alkylates for octane blending is another possibility. However,
alkyates and not oxygenates (as ethanol and methanol are). If
future regulations mandate a minimum oxygen specification for
gasoline (as is currently the case in the USA but might not be in
the future) then there might be a market for ethanol for gasoline
blending. This is a real can of worms.
My gut feel would be that the production of bio-ethanol as a fuel
additive would be uneconomic at the moment without heavy
subsidies. Even if it was economic, it is by no means guaranteed
that the petroleum companies would be willing to blend it into
gasoline at the moment, as it creates potential problems with
engines. Future regulations on fuel specifications might change all
Hope this helps in some way.
> Mike Hulme has sent the following enquiry up to me wondering
> whether there was anyone at UMIST that could help. Your name
> came to mind though I don't know whether it is something to which you
> could contribute or whether it lies more squarely in the area of
> bio-chemical engineering. Perhaps, if it's not in your line, you could
> pass it on to one of your contacts more directly in this area.
> For purposes of record keeping it would be helpful to know what
> eventually happens with the enquiry.
> ------- Forwarded message follows -------
> Date sent: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 17:26:27 +0100
> To: brian.launderatXYZxyzst.ac.uk
> From: Mike Hulme <m.hulmeatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
> Subject: Fwd: Bio Fuels
> I am afraid that this enquiry from British Sugar is beyond even me!
> Might there be someone at UMIST who might be able to respond?
> The enquiry admittedly is very vague!
> >X-Mailer: Novell GroupWise 4.1
> >Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 17:00:47 +0000
> >From: David Darby <ddarbyatXYZxyztishsugar.co.uk>
> >To: m.hulmeatXYZxyz.ac.uk
> >Subject: Bio Fuels
> >Dear Sir
> >I have been given your name by British Biogen as potentially someone
> >who could help us identify the viability of various raw materials
> >and different technologies for the production of bio fuels from
> >renewable resources.
> >We are specifically interested in Bio-ethanol and at this stage we
> >are looking for confirmation of our initial estimates and
> >calculations before committing to more detailed analysis and work.
> >Thanks for your help in anticipation
> >Mr David Darby
> >Chemical Engineer
> >British Sugar
> ------- End of forwarded message -------