SBIR-STTR Success: Gevo, Inc.
Using corn and plant waste, Gevo Inc. creates isobutanol, a four-carbon, naturally occurring alcohol that can be converted into hydrocarbon feedstocks and has the potential to replace dangerous fossil fuels. Gevo has been producing this alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel since 2011 in an effort to help airlines reduce their carbon emissions and control fuel costs. Isobutanol enables the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable raw materials in the production of many of the chemicals and liquid fuels used today.
Gevo leveraged just $1.5 million from the SBIR programs across the Depart- ment of Energy, National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency to evolve its isobutanol technology and commercialize the product. The Department of Defense soon took notice and today the U.S. Navy is work- ing with Gevo to test and evaluate the performance of a 50/50 ATJ blend for use in F/A-18 operations. The Navy has been exploring alternative fuels that can serve as drop-in replacements to petroleum, as the availability of addition- al fuel sources can increase resiliency for operational commanders and help reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
It’s not just the airline industry that can benefi from Gevo’s isobutanol. Ari- zona just recently allowed gas stations to sell isobutanol-blended gasoline for on-road vehicles, enabling higher performing fi fuels with renewable content for drivers in the state.
Gevo’s isobutanol is already being sold in Arizona for off-road applications such as boating, ATVs, motorcycles and landscape equipment. Isobutanol is an ideal renewable gasoline blendstock because of its high-energy content, high octane, low water solubility and low volatility.