From Lab Experiment to Biofuel

Building the infrastructure to scale up our business is something we’ve thought about. It’s unnecessary. Here’s why.

New industries traditionally face other challenges, such as the ramp-up of the infrastructure to produce biofuels. Many of these facilities still need to be built, and construction will have upfront costs that will not be amortized for years. Even when these challenges are overcome, and the facility is constructed, production capacity is typically at a demonstration or pilot level, to prove process viability, and additional, expensive facilities will need to be built to realize commercial-level production. Still other factors include the location: To reduce carbon footprint and transport costs to get feedstock into the facility, each should be situated in close proximity to sources.

Locations for industrial chemical-production plants face similar challenges to other industries, including zoning questions and the NIMBY factor, where neighbors are often leery of chemical processes they don’t fully understand and fear explosions, clouds of poisonous gas escaping, or odors changing the overall surroundings permanently.

Gevo’s isobutanol can be manufactured in existing ethanol plants that have been modified. These plants are already sited in proximity to feedstock production, surrounded by a resident population of skilled workers who may have recently been idled due to government policies that have made ethanol a challenging market. Using existing facilities further enhances our strategy of reducing the carbon footprint of the entire process—there are no fossil-fuel-powered bulldozers arriving for site prep and no building-materials and cement trucks creating green-field facilities.