12 Mar 18

Brazil pushes biofuel amidst rising oil price

A number of companies in Brazil are pushing for the use of biofuels as the price of oil is on the rise again, increasing 22.2% to US$62.18 per barrel from US$48.40 over the last 12 months.

Copersucar - the world’s largest sugar and ethanol producer – stated that its sugar mills in the mid-west and southern regions of the country will focus more on ethanol production than sugar production following its next harvest in April.

As the same amount of sugar cane should be harvested this year as last, the mills should be producing some 1bn liters of ethanol from the harvest.

Meanwhile, local energy company Raizen is scaling up its cellulosic ethanol technology at its facility in Piracicaba (São Paulo state), with expectations to reach an annual production capacity of 40mn liters this year.

Seven or eight of Raizen’s 24 conventional ethanol plants could also be receiving bolt-on upgrades of the cellulosic technology shortly.

US biofuels company ICM has also joined the game, designing Brazil’s first standalone dry-mill corn ethanol plant to help support domestic demand.

Comissioned to  FS Bioenergia which is a joint venture between US-based Summit Agricultural Group and local firm Fiagril, the plant is located in the state of Mato Grosso near the city of Lucas de Rio Verde.

Finally, local petrochemical company Braskem and Danish catalysis company Haldor Topsoe have signed a technological cooperation agreement aimed at preparing plans to produce monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar.

The agreement calls for the construction of a demonstration plant in Denmark with operation slated to begin in 2019, followed by the launching of a commercial plant in Brazil by 2023.

Currently, the price per liter of regular gasoline and ethanol in Brazil is approximately 4.19 reais (US$1.29) and 3.02 reais respectively. At least half of Brazil’s cars are flex-fuel, accepting gasoline, ethanol or any mixture thereof.

Despite being a renewable and cleaner source of energy, ethanol in Brazil has about 70% the efficiency of gasoline.   

Photo: Ipiranga gas station in Brazil (SOURCE: Shutterstock)

Authored by: Daniel Bland