January 2, 2013
Vinod Sreeharsha – IEE Spectrum, 01/02/2013
Later this year, northeastern Brazil will host one of the most ambitious biofuel experiments ever. There, in the small town of São Miguel dos Campos, surrounded by sprawling sugarcane fields, a commercial-scale ethanol plant is expected to start operating in December. Unlike the nearby ethanol plants, which use sugarcane as feedstock, this new facility will consume the leftovers of those plants—bagasse and straw—to produce a holy grail of biofuel: cellulosic ethanol.
Ethanol produced from corn has gotten a bad reputation in recent years. Turning food crops into fuel might help drivers fill up their tanks, but it also raises food prices. What’s more, studies have shown that production of corn-based ethanol actually increases carbon emissions rather than reducing them. Because cellulosic ethanol is made from agricultural waste and nonfood crops, it has none of those drawbacks.
The prospect of transforming cheap raw materials like sugarcane bagasse, switchgrass, wood chips, wheat straw, and corn stover into fuel has led to a worldwide race for technologies that can make cellulosic ethanol commercially practical. But success has eluded big companies and start-ups alike. It costs more to make ethanol from cellulose than from corn or sugarcane because of the extra equipment, chemicals, and steps involved.
November 6, 2012
EFE/Fox News Latino, 11/05/2012
Brazil’s Copersucar and U.S. company Eco-Energy announced Monday that they are linking their ethanol operations to create the largest biofuel marketer in the world.
The two firms together control 12 percent of the global market for ethanol, with a combined supply capacity of 2.6 billion gallons (10 billion liters) of biofuel per year, the partners said in a press release.
Brazil makes ethanol from sugar, while U.S. producers use corn as raw material.
January 9, 2012
Javier Blas – Financial Times, 01/09/2012
The growth of the biofuel industry has come to an abrupt halt with annual output last year falling for the first time in a decade owing to poor margins in Brazil and the US, the world’s biggest suppliers.
Global biofuel production dropped to 1.819m barrels a day, from 1.822m b/d in 2010. The drop ends a decade of steady growth in biofuel production, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
The rapid expansion of the biofuel industry over the past 10 years has been controversial because it transforms food crops such as corn, sugar, palm oil and wheat into fuels.
September 7, 2011
AFP/France 24, 09/07/2011
Brazilian Indians of the Guarani tribe have called on Shell to withdraw from their ancestral land, where the oil giant produces ethanol from sugar cane, according to a native rights group.
Guarani Indians in southern Brazil have called on Shell to withdraw from their ancestral land, where the oil giant produces ethanol from sugar cane, according to a native rights group.
“Shell must leave our land… The companies must stop using indigenous land,” said Ambrosio Vilhalva, a Guarani from the Caarapo municipality in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
“We want justice, we want our land to be mapped out and protected for us,” he was quoted as saying by Survival International, a rights group that campaigns for indigenous peoples.
August 11, 2011
Reese Ewing – Reuters, 08/10/2011
Most people have never heard of the product manufactured by biotechnology company Amyris, but that may actually boost its business by helping it transcend established trade barriers that face other farm-based products such as ethanol.
California-based Amyris produces farnesene, an oily hydrocarbon, from sugar cane in a fermentation process using genetically altered yeast. Its production operations are focused in Brazil, the world’s biggest and cheapest grower of cane.
The farnesene goes through a handful of conventional finishing steps — such as the addition of a hydrogen molecule for example — to adapt it for any number of end consumer products including diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, soaps, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, lubricants and plastics.
July 28, 2011
Boeing, Embraer and the Inter-American Development Bank will fund a sustainability analysis of making renewable jet fuel from Brazilian sugarcane.
The groundbreaking study will evaluate environmental and market conditions associated with the use of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris, a U.S. renewable products company with a Brazilian subsidiary.
World Wildlife Fund will serve as an independent reviewer and adviser.
June 27, 2011
Mark Tran – The Guardian, 06/27/2011
José Graziano da Silva, left, the Food and Agriculture Organisation's new director-general, is congratulated by his predecessor, Jacques Diouf, after being elected at the FAO's headquarters in Rome. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images
The director-general elect of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN agency that deals with world hunger, on Monday pledged to work for a minimum consensus to avoid paralysis of the organisation.
On Sunday, José Graziano da Silva, of Brazil, narrowly won a contest to take over the UN’s largest agency, with an annual budget of $1bn and 3,600 employees. He took 92 votes out of 180, beating the former Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, who received 88 votes. The election showed a split between donor countries and developing countries, and at his press conference in Rome, where the FAO is based, Graziano was at pains to stress his efforts to bridge the divide.
“Those divisions became clear in the election process,” said Graziano. “It is part of daily life in the FAO, there are differences that are not going to be swept away. I was living day by day with these. We have to work on a minimum consensus so this organisation is not paralysed by these divisions. I hope I can forge agreements to get a minimum consensus.”
April 22, 2011
Deccan Herald, 04/18/2011
A 28-metre-long bus, said to be the world’s biggest, has been put into service in Brazil using biofuels, officials said.
The Mega BRT bus, manufactured by Volvo do Brasil, has a passenger capacity of 250 with seats for 60 people and standing room for 190, the manufacturer said.
The bus, powered exclusively by biodiesel, has been pout into service in Curitiba city. A total of 24 giant buses will transport an average of 25,000 passengers per day along a route 10 km long. It will make just four stops and will travel an average speed of 28 km per hour.
March 23, 2011
Biofuels Digest, 03/23/2011
In Brazil, President Obama and newly inaugurated Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expanded a Memorandum of Understanding on Biofuels, and agreed “that the two countries have converging interests in energy-related matters, including in oil, natural gas, biofuels and other renewables. President Obama stated that the United States seeks to be a Strategic Energy Partner of Brazil. They praised the Working Group on Energy and the Memorandum of Understanding to Advance the Cooperation on Biofuels and decided that their work will be carried out under the umbrella of a bilateral Strategic Energy Dialogue.”
To the four year old MOU, the leaders added language on aviation biofuels development, including support for the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the Brazilian Alliance for Aviation Biofuels. The leaders did not release any language related to the disposition of the 54 cent per gallon ethanol tariff, which shields US corn ethanol, from competition from lower cost sugarcane ethanol.
Prior to becoming president of Brazil, Rousseff had served in past years as Brazilian minister of energy.
January 12, 2011
Senators John McCain and John Barrasso said on Monday the extension of U.S. ethanol subsidies and a tariff on imports is likely illegal under international trade rules, lending some support to Brazil’s opposition to U.S. ethanol policy.
“I believe the WTO would rule against the United States because it’s clearly a subsidy that is neither warranted nor in keeping with WTO regulations,” Senator McCain of Arizona told reporters after a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia.
In December, the U.S. government extended through end-2011 a 54-cent-per-gallon import tariff on ethanol as well as a 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy for blenders worth up to $6 billion.