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Home » BioRefineries, Biorefinery Infrastructure, Brazil, Business News/Analysis, Feedstocks, Field Crops, Funding/Financing/Investing, Infrastructure, Logistics, Process, R & D Focus, Sustainability

Brazilian Ethanol Producer Sees Boost from Plant Waste

Submitted by on July 5, 2017 – 8:41 pmNo Comment

by Joe Leahy (Folha de S.Paulo/”Financial Times”)  Raízen Energia, Brazil’s largest producer of sugar cane ethanol, is planning to scale up production at a new “second-generation” biofuel plant, in a move that will sharply increase the productivity of one of the country’s most important industries.

The company says that it will increase production more than fivefold within two years, making the new technology competitive with traditional ethanol and harnessing potentially millions of tonnes of plant material that currently goes to waste.

The Raízen plant, in Piracicaba in São Paulo state, produced 7m litres of next-generation ethanol last year and is on course to double this in 2017. Mr Abreu said it would produce 40m by 2018, said Mr Abreu.

That is tiny compared to the around 30bn litres of conventional ethanol produced annually in Brazil, but would be enough to make the second-generation product cost competitive and could prove the technology is ready to be rolled out more widely.

While first generation plants convert the sucrose extracted from sugar cane into ethanol, second generation technology uses enzymes to break down the waste from the traditional sugar cane crushing process and convert it to sugars that can be fermented into biofuel.

The state of São Paulo, the main producer of sugar and ethanol in Brazil, produced 45m tonnes of biomass a year in the form of the discarded tops of plants and their leaves, which were left on the ground.

The improved efficiency from second-generation ethanol means sugar cane biofuel will have a lower carbon footprint. Brazil is hoping this will give its exports an edge over competitors, since countries have agreed to cut their carbon emissions.

The problems to be overcome included removing impurities from the fuels as well as logistics bottlenecks. “Our challenge is much more related to logistics – you must be able to bring at competitive cost all the biomass that is available in the fields,” he said.

In addition to working on second generation ethanol, Raízen was exploring other ways to use sugar cane and its byproducts, including methane to power its fleet of harvesters and trucks and biochemicals to compete with petrochemicals. READ MORE

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