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Business

Gevo, Butamax Bury Hatchet

by Michael McCoy
August 31, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 34

Gevo and Butamax Advanced Biofuels, two developers of biobased isobutyl alcohol, have ended a long-running patent dispute by agreeing to cross-license technology and end all lawsuits. The two firms first sued each other in 2011. Their case was ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court early this year, although even that didn’t end the dispute. Under the new settlement, the two will license all relevant patents to each other. Butamax, a joint venture of BP and DuPont, will pursue isobutyl alcohol as a gasoline additive. Gevo will lead development of the jet fuel market, where it has been working with three branches of the U.S. military. Settlement of the lawsuit improves the prospects for commercialization of isobutyl alcohol immensely, says James Evangelow, who heads the consulting firm Chemical Strategies and wrote an article in May calling for a truce. No bank was willing to finance isobutyl alcohol plant construction under the cloud of the lawsuit, he notes. But the current low price of oil still weighs on the alcohol and other biobased chemicals, Evangelow says.

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