Biobutanol firm to shift to ethanol in short-term as it tweaks processA next-generation biofuels company says it’s suspending plans to produce isobutanol from corn at its Minnesota plant and will instead make ethanol in the near term while it tweaks its process.
By: Dirk Lammers, The Associated Press
A next-generation biofuels company says it’s suspending plans to produce isobutanol from corn at its Minnesota plant and will instead make ethanol in the near term while it tweaks its process.
Englewood, Colo.-based Gevo Inc. had hoped that its Luverne, Minn., plant would be producing 1 million gallons of isobutanol per month by the end of the year. The industrial chemical can be used as an additive to gasoline, plastics and paints.
Pat Gruber, Gevo’s chief executive, said the plant will likely start making isobutanol sometime in 2013.
“With these start-ups with new technologies, you always have to learn a lot in a very short period of time, both what works well and what needs to be tweaked,” Gruber said during a Monday afternoon conference call.
Gevo made the announcement late Monday. On Tuesday, its shares plunged $1.17 cents, or 35 percent, to $2.14 per share.
The pushed-back timetable will also delay the conversion of a South Dakota corn ethanol plant.
Redfield Energy is teaming with Gevo to convert a 50 million gallon-per-year ethanol plant in Redfield to a 40 million gallon-pery-ear biobutanol plant using the same 18 million bushels of corn a year.
Tom Hitchcock, CEO of Redfield Energy, said the co-op was expecting a year-and-a-half ago to be producing isobutanol in the fourth quarter of this year. He said the announcement likely will push back Redfield’s timetable into 2014.
Redfield board members learned about the delay during a conference call with Gevo Tuesday morning.
“Our board has been patient in this process knowing that they’ve got to get it right at Luverne first before we want them to come over here and spend a whole bunch of capital dollars on our facility,” Hitchcock said.