GAF 2018: From Precision Farming to Fuel Cell Challenges
by Laís F. Thomaz*(Advanced Biofuels USA) The Global Agribusiness Forum event took place on July 23 and 24 2018 at the Sheraton WTC in São Paulo, Brazil, and brought together leaders from more than 60 countries.
In its fourth edition, the special theme was “Science from the field to the benefit of the planet: Action is Now.” In the panels, the issues of fighting hunger and the sustainable production of biofuels were at the center of the discussions.
Today we need to tackle many food-related problems in the world. Daniel Balaban, director of the World Food Program (WFP), warned that the problem is lack of access to food and that both immediate humanitarian assistance and long-term development actions are needed.
Also, there is special concern about the growth of the world population. By 2050, we will be 9.8 billion people, which means a 70% increase in food production with higher demand for animal protein. It is hoped that Brazil will be able to collaborate with the supply of more food. This will be possible through productivity gains and sustainable techniques, that is, due to the preservation of forests and development of new technologies with the use of precision agriculture. That is why we need to act now, to secure the future.
The role of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply was instrumental in increasing the country’s productive capacity and should continue to be responsible for the development of agronomy.
If on the one hand there is concern about food, on the other hand we have to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in transportation. For this reason, the event dedicated some panels to dealing with bioenergy and its advances.
Panel 10 was specific to the bioeconomy and dealt with the integration between food and energy. Andre Rocha, President of the Brazilian Sugar and Ethanol Association, Plinio Nastari President of DATAGRO, Brazilian Rep. Evandro Gussi, Mike Dwyer, Economist of US Grains Council and Luis Roberto Pogetti, President of Coopersucar.
Nastari was categorical in demonstrating the advantages of a fuel cell car and Lucas di Grassi also advocated this technology. Di Grassi, driver and 2017 champion of FIA Formula E (Electric cars), was one of the keynote speakers of the GAF18.
Di Grassi presented the technological advances of electric cars and autonomous cars. Di Grassi was emphatic in highlighting that cars powered by fuel cells would have far more advantages than conventional electric, from the high energy density of such fuels. According to his data, while the lithium battery has 2.5 MJ / KG, ethanol would have 30MJ / KG and biodiesel 42.2MJ / KG.
Mike Dwyer mentioned that the United States and Brazil should collaborate to expand the use of biofuels in the world. It is important to remember that the two countries are already members of the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) through their trade associations. In 2006 the two governments also created the Inter-American Ethanol Commission. This commission was an initiative of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Brazilian Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues, and President of the IDB Luis Alberto Moreno, at that time.
Once again it was emphasized that the time to strengthen these alliances is now. The Brazilian RenewBio Program for decarbonisation and the encouragement of the use of biofuels can stimulate other developing countries to follow the same path.
Laís F. Thomaz is Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Goias in Brazil and serves as an Advanced Biofuels USA board member.
Photos: LF Thomaz