Boat manufacturers group endorses ethanol alternative 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2015

The nation’s largest recreational boating trade group today formally endorsed biobutanol, an alternative to ethanol, as its preferred biofuel.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association said it threw its weight behind biobutanol after five years of testing done with the American Boat and Yacht Council under the direction of the Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory.

The tests evaluated how marine engines performed on blends of biobutanol up to 16 percent.

The boating industry has long eyed biobutanol, otherwise known as isobutanol, as a possible alternative for ethanol. Because it contains less oxygen than ethanol, biobutanol can be used in higher volumes in marine engines without worries about corrosion.

The association has been a vocal critic of higher blends of ethanol gasoline spurred by the renewable fuel standard. The group noted that large quantities of biobutanol would likely not be available for a couple of years.

Two companies are leading the development of commercial-scale quantities of biobutanol in the United States. Startup firm Gevo Inc. has retrofitted an ethanol plant in Minnesota to produce the alternative fuel, while DuPont Co.-BP PLC joint venture Butamax has yet to open its first facility.

NMMA said that it hoped its formal position in support of the fuel would encourage quicker market expansion.

“The recreational boating industry is proud to be on the leading edge of renewable fuel research as we continue to work toward a solution for our industry and the many others that are impacted by the RFS,” said John McKnight, NMWA’s senior vice president for government relations.