Biofuels in South America and Central America
Biofuels in Brazil
Géraldine Kutas, Head of International Affairs, Unica
Updated information and statistics on biofuels in Brazil have been published in August 2012 the USDA GAIN Brazil Annual Biofuels Report 2012
Brazil is the world's second biggest producer of fuel ethanol (6921 million gallons in 2010 from sugar cane) and the world's biggest exporter of fuel ethanol. Ethanol blends are mandatory in Brazil (E20 to E25) and hydrous ethanol (E100) is also available from thousands of filling stations. There are 6 million flex-fuel vehicles in Brazil and 3 million able to run on E100. Ethanol accounts for 48 % (by volume) of 'light' transport fuels in Brazil. A 3% biodiesel blend is now also mandatory in Brazil and this is set to rise to B5 by 2013.
In Summer 2012, GraalBio Investimentos S.A. will start construction of the Brazil’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant at Alagaos. The 22 MMgy plant will convert sugarcane straw and bagasse to feedstock using Prosea™ pretreatment technology licensed form Beta Renewables, a joint venture between Chemtex (Mossi & Ghisolfi Group) and TPG. Novozymes will supply the hydrolytic enzymes, and DSM yeasts will be used for the fermentation.
In July 2011 Amyris Brasil S.A., a subsidiary of Amyris, Inc., announced it will begin supplying up to 160 city buses in the Brazilian city of São Paulo with Amyris renewable diesel derived from sugarcane (Diesel de Cana™). Vehicle manufacturers in Brazil have issued warranties for the use of 10% Amyris renewable diesel blends in Brazil. The renewable diesel derived from plant-based sugars does not require engine or infrastructure modifications.
In April 2012, Solazyme announced a joint venture with Bunge (Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renovaveis Ltda.) to develop a commercial-scale (100,000 t.p.a.) oil production facility in Brazil, using Solazymes technology to convert sugar (from cane) to 'tailored oils'.
In January 2012, Abengoa announced that its cellulosic ethanol technology would be used to produce ethanol from sugar cane cane straw and bagasse, as part of the Industrial Innovation Program for the Sugar Energy Sector.
Petrobras has established a joint pilot plant with Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte to produce biodiesel from microalgae in Extremoz.
Brazillian researchers are also looking at opportunities to develop aviation biofuels with Boeing Research & Technology-Brazil due to be established in 2012.
More up-to-date information is available in Biofuels Brazil, a weekly report with the latest facts, figures & market news
Sugar cane and sustainable biofuels
Sugar cane provides an energy balance of 8-10 (i.e. 8-10 times energy production in comparison to inputs) and GHG reduction of 90% (compared to only 30% for ethanol from corn, which offers an energy balance of only 1.5). The production of bioethanol is not viewed to have a major impact on world sugar prices (and sugar is not a staple food). Hence Brazil is considered by many organisations to be a sustainable biofuel producer.
Brazil and the Netherlands have signed a cooperation agreement on the sustainable production of biofuels. This will involve helping developing nations to establish sustainable biofuels crops.
Biofuels in other South American and Central American countries
Bioethanol and biodiesel production is also accelerating in other countries in South America. The BioTop - Biofuels RTD Cooperation Latin America - Europe project produces an Interactive Latin American Biofuels Map - covering statistics, production, sustainability, feedstocks, policy and other information for biodiesel and bioethanol on a country-by-country basis.
BioTop also produced a number of reports on Biofuels in South America covering:
- Full-scale integrated biorefineries
- Improved biodiesel production
- Overview of existing biomass conversion technologies in Latin America
- Overview of sustainability assessment tools for biomass production in Latin America
- Production of biomethane and its use for transport applications
- Overview of biofuel markets and biofuel applications in Latin America
- Initiatives and recent developments in EU Member States and at EU level towards the implementation of sustainability criteria for biofuels
- Improved Bioethanol Production Technologies
- Biomass-to-Liquid Production in Latin America: Technical Opportunities and Research Needs
- Feedstock Production in Latin America
- Sustainable Biofuels in Latin America
Argentina biodiesel exports in 2012
1.5 billion liters of Argentina biodiesel (71% of total production) wre exported ot Europe in 2010.
Research opportunities in Mexico
The FP7 Capacities Programmme “ACCESS2MEXCYT – Promoting High Quality Research Opportunities for European Researchers in Mexico" encourages co-operation between researchers in various subject areas. Calls are regularly published, including those covering energy, such as CONACYT - SENER - HYDROCARBONS 2010 (deadline extended to 18 March 2011).
ACCESS2MEXCYT liaisses with other programmes, such as UEMEXCyT II (European Union - Mexico Cooperation Programme on Science and Technology)