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Title: Isobutanol  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Butanol, Amyl alcohol, Tert-Butyl alcohol, 1-Pentanol, Tert-Amyl alcohol
Collection: Alcohol Solvents, Alkanols, Gabaa Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulators, Hypnotics, Primary Alcohols, Sedatives
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Skeletal formula of isobutanol
Ball-and-stick model of isobutanol
IUPAC name
Other names
Isobutyl alcohol, IBA, 2-methyl-1-propanol, 2-methylpropyl alcohol, Isopropylcarbinol
ChemSpider  Y
EC number 201-148-0
Jmol-3D images Image
RTECS number NP9625000
Molar mass 74.122 g/mol
Appearance Colorless liquid
Odor sweet, musty[2]
Density 0.802 g/cm3, liquid
Melting point −108 °C (−162 °F; 165 K)
Boiling point 107.89 °C (226.20 °F; 381.04 K)
8.7 mL/100 mL[3]
log P 0.8
Vapor pressure 9 mmHg (20°C)[2]
Viscosity 3.95 cP at 20 °C
Safety data sheet ICSC 0113
Irritant (Xi)
R-phrases R10 R37/38 R41, R67
S-phrases (S2) S7/9 S13 S26 S37/39 S46
NFPA 704
Flash point 28 °C (82 °F; 301 K)
415 °C (779 °F; 688 K)
Explosive limits 1.7–10.9%
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
3750 mg/kg (rabbit, oral)
2460 mg/kg (rat, oral)[4]
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 100 ppm (300 mg/m3)[2]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 50 ppm (150 mg/m3)[2]
1600 ppm[2]
Related compounds
Related butanols
Related compounds
Isobutyric acid
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
 Y  (: Y/N?)

Isobutanol (isomers include n-butanol, 2-butanol, and tert-butanol, all of which are important industrially.


  • Production 1
    • Biosynthesis of Isobutanol 1.1
      • Cyanobacteria 1.1.1
      • Escherichia coli 1.1.2
      • Bacillus subtilis 1.1.3
      • Saccharomyces cerevisiae 1.1.4
      • Ralstonia eutropha 1.1.5
  • Applications 2
    • Second Generation Biofuel 2.1
  • Safety and regulation 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Isobutanol is produced by the carbonylation of propylene. Two methods are practiced industrially, hydroformylation is more common and generates a mixture of isobutyraldehydes, which are hydrogenated to the alcohols and then separated. Reppe carbonylation is also practiced.[5]

Biosynthesis of Isobutanol

Isobutanol is also produced naturally during the fermentation of carbohydrates and may also be a byproduct of the decay process of organic matter.[6] The

External links

  1. ^ a b Isobutanol, International Chemical Safety Card 0113, Geneva: International Programme on Chemical Safety, April 2005 .
  2. ^ a b c d e "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0352".  
  3. ^ "Iso-butanol". ChemicalLand21. 
  4. ^ "Isobutyl alcohol". Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health.  
  5. ^ Hahn, Heinz-Dieter; Dämbkes, Georg; Rupprich, Norbert (2005), "Butanols",  .
  6. ^ Atsumi, Shota; Hanai, Taizo; Liao, James C. (2008). "Non-fermentative pathways for synthesis of branched-chain higher alcohols as biofuels". Nature 451 (7174): 86–89.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Peralta-Yahya, Pamela P.; Zhang, Fuzhong; del Cardayre, Stephen B.; Keasling, Jay D.; Del Cardayre, Stephen B.; Keasling, Jay D. (15 August 2012). "Microbial engineering for the production of advanced biofuels". Nature 488 (7411): 320–328.  
  8. ^ Cyanobacteria
  9. ^ a b c d Machado, Iara M.P.; Atsumi, Shota (1 November 2012). "Cyanobacterial biofuel production". Journal of Biotechnology 162 (1): 50–56.  
  10. ^ a b c d Varman, A. M.; Xiao, Y.; Pakrasi, H. B.; Tang, Y. J. (26 November 2012). "Metabolic Engineering of Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC 6803 for Isobutanol Production". Applied and Environmental Microbiology 79 (3): 908–914.  
  11. ^ a b Singh, Nirbhay Kumar; Dhar, Dolly Wattal (11 March 2011). "Microalgae as second generation biofuel. A review". Agronomy for Sustainable Development 31 (4): 605–629.  
  12. ^ a b Trinh, Cong T. (9 June 2012). "Elucidating and reprogramming Escherichia coli metabolisms for obligate anaerobic n-butanol and isobutanol production". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 95 (4): 1083–1094.  
  13. ^ a b Nakashima, Nobutaka; Tamura, Tomohiro (1 July 2012). "A new carbon catabolite repression mutation of Escherichia coli, mlc∗, and its use for producing isobutanol". Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering 114 (1): 38–44.  
  14. ^ a b Li, Shanshan; Huang, Di; Li, Yong; Wen, Jianping; Jia, Xiaoqiang (1 January 2012). "Rational improvement of the engineered isobutanol-producing Bacillus subtilis by elementary mode analysis". Microbial Cell Factories 11 (1): 101.  
  15. ^ a b Kondo, Takashi; Tezuka, Hironori; Ishii, Jun; Matsuda, Fumio; Ogino, Chiaki; Kondo, Akihiko (1 May 2012). "Genetic engineering to enhance the Ehrlich pathway and alter carbon flux for increased isobutanol production from glucose by Saccharomyces cerevisiae". Journal of Biotechnology 159 (1–2): 32–37.  
  16. ^ MATSUDA, Fumio; KONDO, Takashi; IDA, Kengo; TEZUKA, Hironori; ISHII, Jun; KONDO, Akihiko (1 January 2012). "Construction of an Artificial Pathway for Isobutanol Biosynthesis in the Cytosol of Saccharomyces cerevisiae". Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry 76 (11): 2139–2141.  
  17. ^ Lee, Won-Heong; Seo, Seung-Oh; Bae, Yi-Hyun; Nan, Hong; Jin, Yong-Su; Seo, Jin-Ho (28 April 2012). "Isobutanol production in engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae by overexpression of 2-ketoisovalerate decarboxylase and valine biosynthetic enzymes". Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering 35 (9): 1467–1475.  
  18. ^ Li, H.; Opgenorth, P. H.; Wernick, D. G.; Rogers, S.; Wu, T.-Y.; Higashide, W.; Malati, P.; Huo, Y.-X.; Cho, K. M.; Liao, J. C. (29 March 2012). "Integrated Electromicrobial Conversion of CO2 to Higher Alcohols". Science 335 (6076): 1596–1596.  
  19. ^ Lu, Jingnan; Brigham, Christopher J.; Gai, Claudia S.; Sinskey, Anthony J. (4 August 2012). "Studies on the production of branched-chain alcohols in engineered Ralstonia eutropha". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 96 (1): 283–297.  
  20. ^ Ting, Cindy Ng Wei; Wu, Jinchuan; Takahashi, Katsuyuki; Endo, Ayako; Zhao, Hua (8 September 2012). "Screened Butanol-Tolerant Enterococcus faecium Capable of Butanol Production". Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 168 (6): 1672–1680.  
  21. ^ "Cosmetic Chemicals Banned in Canada", Chem. Eng. News 87 (11), 2009-03-16: 38 .


See also

In March 2009, the Canadian government announced a ban on isobutanol use in cosmetics.[21]

Isobutanol is one of the least toxic of the butanols with an LD50 of 2460 mg/kg (rat, oral).

Safety and regulation

  • can be produced from plant matter not connected to food supplies, preventing a fuel-price/food-price relationship.[7][12][13][14]
  • can be mixed at any proportion with gasoline,[20] meaning the fuel can "drop into" the existing petroleum infrastructure as a replacement fuel or major additive.[7]
  • does not readily absorb water from air, preventing the corrosion of engines and pipelines.[7]

Isobutanol's properties make it an attractive biofuel:[7]

Isobutanol can be used as a biofuel substitute for gasoline in the current petroleum infrastructure. Isobutanol has not yet been put into mainstream use as a biofuel and would serve as a replacement for ethanol. Ethanol is a first generation biofuel, and is used primarily as a gasoline additive in the petroleum infrastructure. Isobutanol is a second generation biofuel with several qualities that resolve issues presented by ethanol.[7]

Second Generation Biofuel

  • feedstock in the manufacture of isobutyl acetate, which is used in the production of lacquer and similar coatings, and in the food industry as a flavoring agent
  • precursor of derivative esters - isobutyl esters such as diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) are used as plasticizers in plastics, rubbers, and other dispersions
  • precursor of p-xylene, a building block for plastic bottles, textiles and clothing.
  • paint solvent
  • varnish remover
  • ink ingredient
  • paint additive, to reduce viscosity, improve brush flow, and retard formation of oil residues (blush) on painted surfaces
  • gasoline additive, to reduce carburetor icing
  • automotive polish additive
  • automotive paint cleaner additive
  • chemical extractant in production of organic compounds
  • mobile phase in thin layer chromatography.
  • potential gasoline alternative

Isobutanol has a variety of technical and industrial applications:


This method of isobutanol production offers a way to chemically store energy produced from sustainable sources.[18]

  • Anodes are placed in a mixture of H2O and CO2.
  • An electric current is run through the anodes, and through an electrochemical process H2O and CO2 are combined to synthesize formic acid.
  • A culture of Ralstonia eutropha (composed of a strain tolerant to electricity) is kept within the H2O and CO2 mixture.
  • The culture of Ralstonia eutropha then converts formic acid from the mixture into isobutanol.
  • The biosynthesized isobutanol is then separated from the mixture, and can be used as a biofuel.

Ralstonia eutropha is a gram-negative soil bacterium of the betaproteobacteria class. Ralstonia eutropha is capable of converting electrical energy into isobutanol. This conversion is completed in several steps:

Ralstonia eutropha

  • As a eukaryote, S. cerevisiaeis genetically more complex than E. coli or B. subtilis, and is harder to genetically manipulate as a result.[7]
  • S. cerevisiae has the natural ability to produce ethanol. This natural ability can "overpower" and consequently inhibit isobutanol production by S. cerevisiae.[7]
  • S. cerevisiae cannot use five carbon sugars to produce isobutanol. The inability to use five-carbon sugars restricts S. cerevisiae from using lignocellulose, and means S. cerevisiae must use plant matter intended for human consumption to produce isobutanol. This results in an unfavorable food/fuel price relationship when isobutanol is produced by S. cerevisiae.[7]

Overexpression of the enzymes in the valine biosynthetic pathway of S. cerevisiae has been used to improve isobutanol yields.[15][16][17] S. cerevisiae, however, has proved difficult to work with because of its inherent biology:

  • Extensive scientific knowledge about S. cerevisiae and its biology already exists.[7]
  • S. cerevisiae can be grown at low pH levels, helping prevent contamination during growth in industrial bioreactors.[7]
  • S. cerevisiae cannot be affected by bacteriophages because it is a eukaryote.[7]

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or S. cerevisiae is a species of yeast. S. cerevisiae naturally produces isobutanol in small quantities via its valine biosynthetic pathway.[15] S. cerevisiae is an ideal candidate for isobutanol biofuel production for several reasons:

Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Bacillus subtilis is a gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria. Bacillus subtilis offers many of the same advantages and disadvantages of E. coli, but it is less prominently used and does not produce isobutanol in quantities as large as E. coli.[7] Similar to E. coli, Bacillus subtilis is capable of producing isobutanol from lignocellulose, and is easily manipulated by common genetic techniques.[7] Elementary mode analysis has also been used to improve the isobutanol-synthesis metabolic pathway used by Bacillus subtilis, leading to higher yields of isobutanol being produced.[14]

Bacillus subtilis

The primary drawback of E. coli is that it is susceptible to bacteriophages when being grown. This susceptibility could potentially shut down entire bioreactors.[7]

  • E. coli is an organism for which several tools of genetic manipulation exist, and it is an organism for which an extensive body of scientific literature exists.[7] This wealth of knowledge allows E. coli to be easily modified by scientists.
  • E. coli has the capacity to use lignocellulose (waste plant matter leftover from agriculture) in the synthesis of isobutanol. The use of lignocellulose prevents E. coli from using plant matter meant for human consumption, and prevents any food-fuel price relationship which would occur from the biosynthesis of isobutanol by E. coli.[7]
  • Genetic modification has been used to broaden the scope of lignocellulose which can be used by E. coli. This has made E. coli a useful and diverse isobutanol bio-synthesizer.[13]

is an ideal isobutanol bio-synthesizer for several reasons: E. coli [12] so that larger quantities of isobutanol may be produced.E. coli of metabolic efficiency have been used to improve the elementary mode analysis Methods such as [7]

Escherichia coli

  • Cyanobacteria are sensitive to environmental conditions when being grown. Cyanobacteria suffer greatly from sunlight of inappropriate wavelength and intensity, CO2 of inappropriate concentration, or H2O of inappropriate salinity though a wealth of cyanobacteria are able to grow in brackish and marine waters. These factors are generally hard to control, and present a major obstacle in cyanbacterial production of isobutanol.[11]
  • Cyanobacteria bioreactors require high energy to operate. Cultures require constant mixing, and the harvesting of biosynthetic products is energy intensive. This reduces the efficiency of isobutanol production via Cyanobacteria.[11]

The primary drawbacks of Cyanobacteria are:

  • Cyanobacteria grow faster than plants[9] and also absorb sunlight more efficiently than plants.[10] This means they can be replenished at a faster rate than the plant matter used for other biofuel biosynthesizers.
  • Cyanobacteria can be grown on non-arable land (land not used for farming).[9] This prevents competition between food sources and fuel sources.[9]
  • The supplements necessary for the growth of Cyanobacteria are CO2, H2O, and sunlight.[10] This presents two advantages:
    • Because CO2 is derived from the atmosphere, Cyanobacteria do not need plant matter to synthesize isobutanol (in other organisms which synthesize isobutanol, plant matter is the source of the carbon necessary to synthetically assemble isobutanol).[10] Since plant matter is not used by this method of isobutanol production, the necessity to source plant matter from food sources and create a food-fuel price relationship is avoided.[9]
    • Because CO2 is absorbed from the atmosphere by Cyanobacteria, the possibility of bioremediation (in the form of Cyanobacteria removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere) exists.[10]

Cyanobacteria, are a phylum of photosynthetic bacteria.[8] Cyanobacteria are suited for isobutanol biosynthesis when genetically engineered to produce isobutanol. Isobutanol producing species of cyanobacteria offer several advantages as biofuel synthesizers:


The organisms being pursued as commercial isobutanol producers are listed below: [7]

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