Phytonix Solar Chemicals: Low Cost Butanol from Carbon Dioxide Emissions

CleanTech Innovation Showcase Presenting Company Recap: Phytonix Solar Chemicals

By Ray Adler

CleanTech Alliance Contributor

Phytonix Solar Chemicals has developed a patented process for producing low cost butonal from carbon dioxide emissions. The company presented at the 2017 CleanTech Innovation Showcase.

Butonal is used in paints, plastics, solvents and even perfumes. The process relies on genetically modified cyanobacteria, which break down carbon dioxide to produce butonal as part of photosynthesis. The cyanobacteria are grown with LED photobioreactors. Gordan Skene, Chairman of Phytonix, says the process to grow the bacteria is a “well developed technology that is low cost to operate.” The carbon dioxide emissions can come from chemical plants, coal or natural gas power plants, or even breweries.

The global market for butonal is roughly $9 billion per year with over $2 billion sold in the U.S. For now, the price of butonol is tied to crude oil because it is made from propylene, which is an oil derivative. Propylene costs roughly $2.25 per gallon but with the Phytonix process, Skene says raw stock costs could be negative.

Skene said that Phytonix is partnering with carbon-producing companies “that want to reduce their carbon footprint and make money doing it.” The first is Shaw Industries, which is the world’s largest producer of carpeting. They signed a $5 million agreement about a year ago that will continue to be paid out over three years to complete required lab work and testing through 2018. Phytonix expects to receive more funding from Shaw Industries to build a commercial plant beginning in 2019.