Topic: Brazilian bioethanol (1 of 4), Read 220 times
Discu: Bioethanol debate
From: Paulo Pascon
Date: 30 August 2002 12:21 PM
The *tce June 2002 edition, page 15, contained the article ‘Shell buys stake in bioethanol company’, which says that Shell and Iogen are preparing to develop the world´s first commercial-scale biomass-to-ethanol plant. This statement sounds quite curious to us in Brazil, and it seems likely to have come from someone with inadequate knowledge of what is taking place worldwide.
Brazilians have been running commercial-scale biomass-to-ethanol plants for at least 50 years, as far as I can determine. Our plants use mainly sugar-cane as raw material. The ethanol production load has increased a lot over the past 20 years, since the local authority decided to add ethanol to petrol – it seems that we pioneered this cocktail. Brazilians today use 25% ethanol in commercial petrol, rather than the 10% proposed by Shell and Iogen, and so are benefitting the environment through the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
During the 80s, more than 90% of the Brazilian car fleet was fuelled with pure ethanol, in an attempt to compensate for the two world petroleum crises – most of the crude oil processed in our refineries was imported. We have also researched the feasibility of using vegetable oil in our lorry fleet and came up with quite favourable results.
Unfortunately, due to a poor fuel policy, lack of an adequate statutory framework and the lobby from the oil and gas sector, the Brazilian ethanol programme was abandoned, frustrating the interests of the majority. Today, we are left with only the addition of 25% ethanol to petrol.
Since the Kyoto protocol was announced, the global pressure for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and all the technological efforts needed to achieve it is understood in nearly every country, the US being one of the few exceptions. The Brazilian authority has been signalling its plans to resume the ethanol fuel programme. We look forward to see such a programme in place again, as it would give us an enormous competitive advantage.
*tce - the chemical engineer, a quarterly periodical by IChemE
(this is copied from http://forum.icheme.org