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Butagaz and Global Bioenergies sign exclusive partnership

France-based Butagaz, a subsidiary of the Irish DCC Group and a leading French bottled gas distributor, has announced an exclusive partnership with France-headed biochemical process developer Global Bioenergies. The partnership entails incorporating batches of bio-isobutene into Butagaz propane and butane gas products produced at Global Bioenergies’ demo plant as early as 2017 and then by the first commercial bio-isobutene plant once built in France.

Fermentation unit of Global Bioenergies Leuna biomass-to-isobutene demo plant (photo Gunter Binsack).
Fermentation unit of Global Bioenergies Leuna biomass-to-isobutene demo plant (photo Gunter Binsack). Fermentation unit of Global Bioenergies Leuna biomass-to-isobutene demo plant (photo Gunter Binsack).

Butane and propane are extracted from natural gas or produced from oil refining. They are distributed in either bottles or tanks and are among the “cleanest” forms of fossil fuel. However, Butagaz aims to further reduce the carbon footprint of these value chains as part of its “innovation drive” to contribute to meeting France’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target.

Historically, isobutene is a hydrocarbon derived from oil with physicochemical characteristics very close to those of butane and propane. Global Bioenergies is developing a process to convert by-products of the sugar industry into isobutene – called “bio-isobutene” because of its plant-based origin. Bio-isobutene is suitable for use in the butane and propane streams.

Exclusive partnership in France

Butagaz and Global Bioenergies have signed today an exclusive partnership in France to incorporate bio-isobutene into butane and propane. Butagaz will contribute financially to Global Bioenergies’ industrial development, in return for reserved batches of isobutene: starting in 2017, Global Bioenergies’ demo plant will produce several batches for delivery to Butagaz.

We are continuing to diversify the potential applications of bio-isobutene. We are also progressing in building up the commercial eco-system of IBN-One, the future first full-scale plant. Our partnership with Butagaz, a leading energy supplier, will enable us to have an impact on the daily lives of many French people, helping them to reduce their carbon footprint even further, said Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies.

In the longer term, Butagaz has the potential to purchase thousands of tonnes of bio-isobutene when the first commercial plant comes on stream. Part of this “made-in-France” bio-isobutene could then be incorporated into Butagaz’s bottles or tanks of butane and propane.

From 2017, Global Bioenergies and Butagaz will conduct a joint technical and economic study to examine the large-scale incorporation of renewable components for the butane and propane sectors.

At Butagaz, we are doubly proud of this partnership. First, it demonstrates that a long-established brand in energy comfort in France knows how to innovate and to invest in cutting-edge technologies to reduce CO2 emissions throughout the gas life cycle, from production through to sale. Second, we are delighted that Butagaz is the first gas supplier in France wishing to offer butane and propane containing bio-isobutene to millions of households throughout the country, including in the 27 000 French localities not connected to the natural gas network. This step is part of our long-term vision to play an effective and efficient role in energy transition, said Emmanuel Trivin, Chairman of Butagaz.

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