propane molecule

Biopropane

Biopropane (also known as bio-LPG) is biologically-produced propane (C3H8). Several biological and chemical process pathways are being explored to produce biopropane on a commercial scale.[1][2]

Development

Researchers at MIT announced in 2007 that they had developed a process for the production of biopropane from corn or sugarcane which employed supercritical fluids. A start-up company called C3 BioEnergy was formed to commercialize the process.[3] The C3 BioEnergy process has not been deployed commercially.

A team of scientists at Imperial College London announced in 2014 that they had modified Escherichia coli bacteria to produce renewable propane. However, the amounts were one thousand times less than what would be needed for commercial applications. Dr Patrik Jones, from the Department of Life Sciences suggested that a commercially viable biological pathway might be achieved in five to ten years.[4]

In October 2014, Neste announced their intention to produce biopropane at their renewable diesel plant in Rotterdam. Propane will be separated from the NEXBTL process sidestream waste gases.[5] The biopropane produced by Neste will be distributed via SHV Energy in Europe under the Calor brand. Production is projected to begin in late 2016.[6]

Biochemists from the University of Manchester published research in April 2015 describing improved synthetic pathways for the biosynthesis of propane gas. Their research utilized CoA intermediates that are derived from clostridial-like fermentative butanol pathways. This provided a significant improvement over the earlier results obtained via the FAS pathway at the Imperial College London in 2014.[7]

Alkcon Corporation announced that they reached an exclusivity agreement with Flogas Group in July 2015.[8] The agreement gives Flogas the exclusive right to market and sell Alkcon methane-to-propane gas conversion equipment throughout most of Western Europe. Flogas intends to produce biopropane at various biogas production sites beginning in 2017.[9] Flogas is a subsidiary of DCC plc.

References

[1] Propane Education & Research Council. Biopropane Production Methods.
[2] AEGPL. Bio-LPG: A Sector Renews Itself.
[3] MIT Technology Review. A New Biofuel: Propane.
[4] Imperial College London. Scientists create renewable fossil fuel alternative using bacteria.
[5] Green Car Congress. Neste Oil to invest in producing bio-propane at Rotterdam refinery; off-gas from #NExBTL.
[6] Neste Oil Corporation Press Release. Neste Oil's biopropane will be sold to SHV Energy.
[7] Biotechnology for Biofuels, 2015. A microbial platform for renewable propane synthesis based on a fermentative butanol pathway.
[8] Europétrole. Flogas Group Signs Letter of Intent with Alkcon Corporation.
[9] Northern Nevada Business Weekly. A Clean Agreement.