A company that hopes to commercialize a corn-based process to make an industrial chemical says it plans to resume production this year at its southwest Minnesota plant.
Colorado-based Gevo suspended isobutanol production last fall at it's plant in Luverne, Minn. During an earnings conference call Tuesday, Gevo CEO Pat Gruber said the company is having trouble keeping the alcohol distillery free of microbes that interfere with fermentation.
"In September we talked about the need to modify the plant and change some of the equipment around so we could get rid of some of the sterilization issues that we had," Gruber said. "In other words, there were pockets of infections that we had to take care of. And that required some changes to the plant."
Gruber also said the company's original plan to produce ethanol at the plant temporarily were never carried out because the economics were not right. Isobutanol can be used both as a fuel and as an industrial chemical, and is seen as a more profitable alternative to ethanol.
Gevo also faces allegations of patent infringement by rival Butamax. A trial is set for April.