BP and DuPont have been working together since 2003 to develop advanced biofuels with properties that can help overcome the limitations of existing biofuels. That work has now progressed to the point where they are able to bring the first jointly developed product to market. The companies’ joint strategy is to deliver advanced biofuels that will provide improved options for expanding energy supplies and accelerate the move to renewable transportation fuels which lower overall greenhouse gas emissions, the two firms say.

The first product to market will be biobutanol, which will be introduced in the UK as a gasoline bio-component. Initial introduction is targeted in the UK in 2007 where BP and DuPont are working with British Sugar, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, to convert the country’s first ethanol fermentation facility to produce biobutanol.

Additional global capacity will be introduced as market conditions dictate and a feasibility study in conjunction with British Sugar is already underway to examine the possibility of constructing larger facilities in the UK.

BP has a history of seeking, and delivering, ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions both from our own operations and from the products we sell, said Lord Browne, chief executive officer of BP. Transportation is an important area to address since it accounts for around 20% of global emissions and in the short to medium term increased blending of biocomponents represents one of the few real options for progress in this area on a global scale.

The two firms add that while existing biocomponents have proven to be an excellent starting point for the introduction of biofuels and will continue to play a role in the future, there are issues that needed to be addressed to increase market penetration. In particular, compatibility with existing fuel supply and distribution systems, the ability to blend in higher concentrations without requiring vehicle modifications, and fuel economy were identified as areas where improvements are needed.

Biofuels reduce the overall volume of carbon dioxide emissions entering the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide as agricultural crops grow, BP says, while they emit roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as conventional fuels when they are burned. While greenhouse gases are also generated in the production of biofuels, the net effect is still lower than using conventional fossil fuels.