Saturday, June 20, 2009

Neste Oil’s renewable diesel plant launch coincides with Biofuels International show















Finland-based Neste Oil laid the foundation stone for Europe’s largest renewable diesel plant last week, coinciding with the second annual Biofuels International expo & conference in the Netherlands.

The Rotterdam plant will have an annual production capacity of 800,000 tonnes. The investment cost of the plant is estimated to be €670 million, and it will create over 100 jobs.

While first generation biodiesel plants are facing market difficulties, Finland-based Neste Oil’s renewable diesel plants are set up for a secure future.

‘Biodiesel investment has been a catastrophe with many plants in bankruptcy,’ Neste Oil’s executive VP Renewable Fuels Jarmo Honkamaa, points out. ‘We have a product that is completely different and has a significant premium price on top of biodiesel prices.’

NExBTL fuel offers significant reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and pollution compared to fossil diesel fuel – 40-80% less greenhouse gases throughout the whole product lifecycle.

Producing the green fuel is one thing, but the real survival test is in finding buyers. ‘The demand is guaranteed as the European Union is committed towards an agreed bio requirement of 10% by 2020, equating to more than 20 million tonnes. Our plants will generate 2 million tonnes.’

Renewable diesel has significant advantages over biodiesel. The latter has storage and corrosion issues, and can only be blended at 5%, while renewable diesel can be used at 100%.

Neste Oil’s plants are also feedstock flexible. The company can use rapeseed oil, waste animal fat and palm oil. By the end of 2015 Neste plans to use sustainably-sourced palm oil as its sole feedstock.

The producer is investing in a plant in Singapore from finance earnings and cash flow. Mechanical completion is expected at the end of June 2010, with operations expected by the end of Q3 2010.

The company views expansion on the horizon. The infrastructure in Singapore and Rotterdam will enable the installation of a renewable diesel second line, meaning a better investment return.

‘We have also been talking actively about building a plant in the US, as there has been lots of interest from the new administration,’ Honkamaa adds.

The 2nd Biofuels International expo and conference in nearby Amsterdam from 27 to 28 May attracted over 200 delegates and covered topics including future feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol, BTL, storage and handling and improving fuel performance and quality.

Neste Oil’s renewable diesel plant launch coincides with Biofuels International show















Finland-based Neste Oil laid the foundation stone for Europe’s largest renewable diesel plant last week, coinciding with the second annual Biofuels International expo & conference in the Netherlands.

The Rotterdam plant will have an annual production capacity of 800,000 tonnes. The investment cost of the plant is estimated to be €670 million, and it will create over 100 jobs.

While first generation biodiesel plants are facing market difficulties, Finland-based Neste Oil’s renewable diesel plants are set up for a secure future.

‘Biodiesel investment has been a catastrophe with many plants in bankruptcy,’ Neste Oil’s executive VP Renewable Fuels Jarmo Honkamaa, points out. ‘We have a product that is completely different and has a significant premium price on top of biodiesel prices.’

NExBTL fuel offers significant reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and pollution compared to fossil diesel fuel – 40-80% less greenhouse gases throughout the whole product lifecycle.

Producing the green fuel is one thing, but the real survival test is in finding buyers. ‘The demand is guaranteed as the European Union is committed towards an agreed bio requirement of 10% by 2020, equating to more than 20 million tonnes. Our plants will generate 2 million tonnes.’

Renewable diesel has significant advantages over biodiesel. The latter has storage and corrosion issues, and can only be blended at 5%, while renewable diesel can be used at 100%.

Neste Oil’s plants are also feedstock flexible. The company can use rapeseed oil, waste animal fat and palm oil. By the end of 2015 Neste plans to use sustainably-sourced palm oil as its sole feedstock.

The producer is investing in a plant in Singapore from finance earnings and cash flow. Mechanical completion is expected at the end of June 2010, with operations expected by the end of Q3 2010.

The company views expansion on the horizon. The infrastructure in Singapore and Rotterdam will enable the installation of a renewable diesel second line, meaning a better investment return.

‘We have also been talking actively about building a plant in the US, as there has been lots of interest from the new administration,’ Honkamaa adds.

The 2nd Biofuels International expo and conference in nearby Amsterdam from 27 to 28 May attracted over 200 delegates and covered topics including future feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol, BTL, storage and handling and improving fuel performance and quality.

Oil CEO Blasts Corn Ethanol, Calls for Cutting Tariff


This morning on C-SPAN, the CEO of Anadarko, James Hackett, spoke on U.S. energy and climate change policy. He blasted corn ethanol as a “disaster” and called for the end of the 54 cent per gallon tariff on clearner, more efficient sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. The excerpted video is here and the full video on C-SPAN’s

Oil CEO Blasts Corn Ethanol, Calls for Cutting Tariff


This morning on C-SPAN, the CEO of Anadarko, James Hackett, spoke on U.S. energy and climate change policy. He blasted corn ethanol as a “disaster” and called for the end of the 54 cent per gallon tariff on clearner, more efficient sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. The excerpted video is here and the full video on C-SPAN’s

EU considers extending import duties on US biodiesel


The European Commission has submitted a proposal to extend the temporary tariffs imposed on imports of US biodiesel for up to five years. The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs passed in March were established in order to protect European biodiesel producers by counteracting the payments the US gives its own producers. European biofuel producers stressed that US subsidies triggered an influx of under-priced American imports therefore hijacking their own market. This new proposal by the Commission has recommended an increase in tariffs against some firms, but a decrease for the companies that cooperated with their investigation into US biodiesel subsidies. The move is warmly welcomed by the European biodiesel industry, who have been struggling to cover their costs in an increasingly tough market. Should European ministers endorse the extension of the duties within the next month, the measures would take effect within four to six weeks.

EU considers extending import duties on US biodiesel


The European Commission has submitted a proposal to extend the temporary tariffs imposed on imports of US biodiesel for up to five years. The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs passed in March were established in order to protect European biodiesel producers by counteracting the payments the US gives its own producers. European biofuel producers stressed that US subsidies triggered an influx of under-priced American imports therefore hijacking their own market. This new proposal by the Commission has recommended an increase in tariffs against some firms, but a decrease for the companies that cooperated with their investigation into US biodiesel subsidies. The move is warmly welcomed by the European biodiesel industry, who have been struggling to cover their costs in an increasingly tough market. Should European ministers endorse the extension of the duties within the next month, the measures would take effect within four to six weeks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Biodiesel supplier opens hub in Midwest US



Innovation Fuels, the New York based renewable energy company that manufactures, markets, and distributes second-generation biodiesel to customers around the world has announced it has begun selling biodiesel to customers from its Midwestern renewable fuels hub / Port of Milwaukee terminal located on Lake Michigan.

The 312,000 barrel (45,000 tonnes) capacity terminal located on 10 acres is the first in the country that is totally dedicated for the sale and distribution of renewable fuels.

Originally built as Shell Oil’s Milwaukee headquarters in the 1950’s and acquired from NuStar Energy L.P. (NYSE:NS), the Innovation Fuels terminal includes a 20,000 square foot warehouse, executive offices and a garage.

John Fox, CEO for Innovation Fuels commented, “The commencement of selling biodiesel via our Milwaukee terminal will significantly lower the cost of our biodiesel to customers in the Great Lakes due to lower transportation charges.”

“We also bring along a mindset of quality at a reasonable price, which is backed by our BQ9000 credentials as a marketer and producer in the Northeast United States,” added Fox. “It is highly advantageous for us to be marketing Milwaukee based biodiesel to customers in Milwaukee and greater Wisconsin as well as to Chicago and the entire Midwestern region.”

“This signifies only the beginning of using this facility as an actual renewable fuels hub in the Midwest,” remarked Richard “Hardy” Sawall, Innovation Fuels SVP for Midwest Operations. “We expect to announce plans for additional capabilities including biodiesel blending very shortly.”

Innovation Fuels’ Milwaukee terminal features existing truck and rail loading infrastructure, with excellent highway access and is served by two Class I railways, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Canadian Pacific Railroad. In addition, the Port of Milwaukee has international shipping access via the St. Lawrence Seaway and can receive river barge cargo via the Mississippi. The facility also has an idled connection to the Westshore petroleum pipeline, which could be used to bring in diesel and gasoline to the terminal for blending with renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol.

Garland Middendorf, President of Wolf Lake Terminals, Innovation Fuels’ operations partner for the Milwaukee terminal commented, “This is indeed a momentous occasion as we begin to promote and distribute renewable fuels in Milwaukee. Our partnership with Innovation Fuels signifies our commitment to the growth of sustainable energy and to become an industry leader both in the Midwest and across the U.S.”

Biodiesel supplier opens hub in Midwest US



Innovation Fuels, the New York based renewable energy company that manufactures, markets, and distributes second-generation biodiesel to customers around the world has announced it has begun selling biodiesel to customers from its Midwestern renewable fuels hub / Port of Milwaukee terminal located on Lake Michigan.

The 312,000 barrel (45,000 tonnes) capacity terminal located on 10 acres is the first in the country that is totally dedicated for the sale and distribution of renewable fuels.

Originally built as Shell Oil’s Milwaukee headquarters in the 1950’s and acquired from NuStar Energy L.P. (NYSE:NS), the Innovation Fuels terminal includes a 20,000 square foot warehouse, executive offices and a garage.

John Fox, CEO for Innovation Fuels commented, “The commencement of selling biodiesel via our Milwaukee terminal will significantly lower the cost of our biodiesel to customers in the Great Lakes due to lower transportation charges.”

“We also bring along a mindset of quality at a reasonable price, which is backed by our BQ9000 credentials as a marketer and producer in the Northeast United States,” added Fox. “It is highly advantageous for us to be marketing Milwaukee based biodiesel to customers in Milwaukee and greater Wisconsin as well as to Chicago and the entire Midwestern region.”

“This signifies only the beginning of using this facility as an actual renewable fuels hub in the Midwest,” remarked Richard “Hardy” Sawall, Innovation Fuels SVP for Midwest Operations. “We expect to announce plans for additional capabilities including biodiesel blending very shortly.”

Innovation Fuels’ Milwaukee terminal features existing truck and rail loading infrastructure, with excellent highway access and is served by two Class I railways, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Canadian Pacific Railroad. In addition, the Port of Milwaukee has international shipping access via the St. Lawrence Seaway and can receive river barge cargo via the Mississippi. The facility also has an idled connection to the Westshore petroleum pipeline, which could be used to bring in diesel and gasoline to the terminal for blending with renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol.

Garland Middendorf, President of Wolf Lake Terminals, Innovation Fuels’ operations partner for the Milwaukee terminal commented, “This is indeed a momentous occasion as we begin to promote and distribute renewable fuels in Milwaukee. Our partnership with Innovation Fuels signifies our commitment to the growth of sustainable energy and to become an industry leader both in the Midwest and across the U.S.”

Brazil Energy Invetments Increasingly Mix Oil, Biofuels


Brazil may be rich in oil opportunities, but even traditional energy companies are betting on cleaner, less volatile biofuels. “Oil is the fuel of the 20th century; renewables will dominate the 21st,” said Plinio Nastari, president of Sao Paulo-based consulting group.

Oil companies that invest in biofuels will benefit from a significant increase in global demand, driven by the desire for energy security and lower greenhouse-gas emissions, oil executives and biofuels experts said at a Sao Paulo alternative-fuels conference this week. As for Brazil, oil companies are increasingly investing in the country's sugarcane-based ethanol industry, which experts cited as the world’s best example of sustainable fuel production.

The oil industry didn’t always view biofuels as a compatible product but instead often as competition. In Brazil, that idea is changing rapidly.

Government-controlled energy giant Petrobras (PBR) made the strategic decision to enter the biofuels market in March 2008 with the creation of a biofuels subsidiary, Petrobras Biocombustivel.

“We are now in a period of energy transition. Petrobras is preparing for higher demand for biofuels,” said Miguel Rosseto, president of Petrobras Biocombustivel.

Petrobras produces biodiesel, but won’t start ethanol production until late 2009 or early 2010, said Rosseto.

Petrobras’ biofuels investment comes despite the huge presalt oil finds that created a stir of excitement in November 2007, when Petrobras said offshore fields held recoverable reserves of between five billion and eight billion barrels of oil equivalent–the Western Hemisphere’s largest oil discovery in 30 years.

In January, Petrobras announced a $174.4 billion five-year investment plan, of which $2.8 billion will go to biofuels. Even though biofuels represent only a small portion of total investments, Petrobras President Jose Sergio Gabrielli said the company was responsible for 16% of all Brazilian investments in ethanol production and development on the boards.

Nastari noted that Petrobras has long played an important role in the Brazilian ethanol industry. “Petrobras handles 35-40% of the distribution market through its retail stations. Distribution is a key factor that is missing in pretty much every other country,” Nastari said.

International oil companies are also investing in Brazilian ethanol.

British oil major BP PLC (BP) has announced investments of around $1 billion in ethanol- expansion efforts in Brazil. BP acquired a 50% stake in sugarcane ethanol company Tropical Bioenergia for 100 million Brazilian reals ($49 million) in April 2008.

The $1 billion in investment will go to increasing ethanol production at Tropical, according to BP Biofuels Brasil Chief Executive Mario Lindenhayn.

Lindenhayn said two trends driving investment in biofuels are energy security and climate change. “Energy security is caused by limited oil supplies, and climate change is occurring because of increasing energy demand,” he said.

Lindenhayn stressed that 70% of the world’s oil is produced in only seven countries and that climate change is causing irreparable damage that must be stopped. “Biofuels represent the only practical path to deal with these issues,” he said.

More than just oil companies are investing in biofuels.

Brazil’s largest sugar and ethanol group, Cosan Industria e Comercio SA (CSAN3.BR), acquired Esso, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (XOM) distribution and service station business in Brazil last December.

With the acquisition, Cosan expanded its business model to become a fully integrated renewable- energy company, with operations ranging from sugarcane cultivation to fuel distribution and retail sales.

Marcos M. Lutz, Cosan’s marketing vice president, differentiated Cosan from the oil industry by noting that his company entered the energy market from the opposite direction and is driven by different factors than traditional oil companies.

“Oil companies need to reduce their carbon footprints, and ethanol would be a good option,” he said. “They have good financials and could be more active in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Lutz said Brazil is the best example in the world of partnerships between oil companies and the ethanol industry: “Oil companies in Brazil have entirely incorporated ethanol into their businesses.”

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol.

SOURCE: By Daniel McCleary, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Brazil Energy Invetments Increasingly Mix Oil, Biofuels


Brazil may be rich in oil opportunities, but even traditional energy companies are betting on cleaner, less volatile biofuels. “Oil is the fuel of the 20th century; renewables will dominate the 21st,” said Plinio Nastari, president of Sao Paulo-based consulting group.

Oil companies that invest in biofuels will benefit from a significant increase in global demand, driven by the desire for energy security and lower greenhouse-gas emissions, oil executives and biofuels experts said at a Sao Paulo alternative-fuels conference this week. As for Brazil, oil companies are increasingly investing in the country's sugarcane-based ethanol industry, which experts cited as the world’s best example of sustainable fuel production.

The oil industry didn’t always view biofuels as a compatible product but instead often as competition. In Brazil, that idea is changing rapidly.

Government-controlled energy giant Petrobras (PBR) made the strategic decision to enter the biofuels market in March 2008 with the creation of a biofuels subsidiary, Petrobras Biocombustivel.

“We are now in a period of energy transition. Petrobras is preparing for higher demand for biofuels,” said Miguel Rosseto, president of Petrobras Biocombustivel.

Petrobras produces biodiesel, but won’t start ethanol production until late 2009 or early 2010, said Rosseto.

Petrobras’ biofuels investment comes despite the huge presalt oil finds that created a stir of excitement in November 2007, when Petrobras said offshore fields held recoverable reserves of between five billion and eight billion barrels of oil equivalent–the Western Hemisphere’s largest oil discovery in 30 years.

In January, Petrobras announced a $174.4 billion five-year investment plan, of which $2.8 billion will go to biofuels. Even though biofuels represent only a small portion of total investments, Petrobras President Jose Sergio Gabrielli said the company was responsible for 16% of all Brazilian investments in ethanol production and development on the boards.

Nastari noted that Petrobras has long played an important role in the Brazilian ethanol industry. “Petrobras handles 35-40% of the distribution market through its retail stations. Distribution is a key factor that is missing in pretty much every other country,” Nastari said.

International oil companies are also investing in Brazilian ethanol.

British oil major BP PLC (BP) has announced investments of around $1 billion in ethanol- expansion efforts in Brazil. BP acquired a 50% stake in sugarcane ethanol company Tropical Bioenergia for 100 million Brazilian reals ($49 million) in April 2008.

The $1 billion in investment will go to increasing ethanol production at Tropical, according to BP Biofuels Brasil Chief Executive Mario Lindenhayn.

Lindenhayn said two trends driving investment in biofuels are energy security and climate change. “Energy security is caused by limited oil supplies, and climate change is occurring because of increasing energy demand,” he said.

Lindenhayn stressed that 70% of the world’s oil is produced in only seven countries and that climate change is causing irreparable damage that must be stopped. “Biofuels represent the only practical path to deal with these issues,” he said.

More than just oil companies are investing in biofuels.

Brazil’s largest sugar and ethanol group, Cosan Industria e Comercio SA (CSAN3.BR), acquired Esso, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (XOM) distribution and service station business in Brazil last December.

With the acquisition, Cosan expanded its business model to become a fully integrated renewable- energy company, with operations ranging from sugarcane cultivation to fuel distribution and retail sales.

Marcos M. Lutz, Cosan’s marketing vice president, differentiated Cosan from the oil industry by noting that his company entered the energy market from the opposite direction and is driven by different factors than traditional oil companies.

“Oil companies need to reduce their carbon footprints, and ethanol would be a good option,” he said. “They have good financials and could be more active in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Lutz said Brazil is the best example in the world of partnerships between oil companies and the ethanol industry: “Oil companies in Brazil have entirely incorporated ethanol into their businesses.”

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol.

SOURCE: By Daniel McCleary, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Record Brazilian Sugarcane Harvest, Datagro Predicts


Sugarcane mills in the centre-south of Brazil are forecast to cut the ethanol mix in cane to 57.2 percent in 2009/10 from 60.37 percent in 2008/09 due to high sugar prices, the head of the Datagro consultancy said. Plinio Nastari on Tuesday estimated the sugar equivalent cost of hydrous ethanol at 10.6 cents per lb FOB, well below the present 15-16 cents per lb cost of raw sugar. The sugarcane crush in the main centre-south growing region of Brazil is forecast at a record 535-540 million tonnes in 2009/10, up from 504 million tonnes in 2008/09, he told told Reuters in an interview at the F.O. Licht World Sugar conference.

Nastari said that mills in the main centre-south growing region of Brazil were expected to produce 31.1 million tonnes of sugar in 2009/10, just below full capacity of 32 million tonnes, because of the strong price of sugar. The whole of Brazil is expected to produce 35.9 million tonnes of sugar in 2009/10.

“It is better to produce sugar than ethanol, but the limit is the capacity to produce sugar,” Nastari, a keynote speaker at the conference, said. He said he expected ethanol prices to rise eventually, converging towards the sugar price, as mills would hold back ethanol stocks, but sugar was likely to retain a premium of 2.0-2.5 cents per lb over ethanol.

Brazil is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of sugar and has a highly developed fuel ethanol industry derived from cane. The two-day F.O. Licht World Sugar Conference concludes on Wednesday.

Record Brazilian Sugarcane Harvest, Datagro Predicts


Sugarcane mills in the centre-south of Brazil are forecast to cut the ethanol mix in cane to 57.2 percent in 2009/10 from 60.37 percent in 2008/09 due to high sugar prices, the head of the Datagro consultancy said. Plinio Nastari on Tuesday estimated the sugar equivalent cost of hydrous ethanol at 10.6 cents per lb FOB, well below the present 15-16 cents per lb cost of raw sugar. The sugarcane crush in the main centre-south growing region of Brazil is forecast at a record 535-540 million tonnes in 2009/10, up from 504 million tonnes in 2008/09, he told told Reuters in an interview at the F.O. Licht World Sugar conference.

Nastari said that mills in the main centre-south growing region of Brazil were expected to produce 31.1 million tonnes of sugar in 2009/10, just below full capacity of 32 million tonnes, because of the strong price of sugar. The whole of Brazil is expected to produce 35.9 million tonnes of sugar in 2009/10.

“It is better to produce sugar than ethanol, but the limit is the capacity to produce sugar,” Nastari, a keynote speaker at the conference, said. He said he expected ethanol prices to rise eventually, converging towards the sugar price, as mills would hold back ethanol stocks, but sugar was likely to retain a premium of 2.0-2.5 cents per lb over ethanol.

Brazil is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of sugar and has a highly developed fuel ethanol industry derived from cane. The two-day F.O. Licht World Sugar Conference concludes on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Honda lança 1ª moto "flex" do mundo












Primeira moto bicombustível de série do planeta, CG 150 Mix custa R$ 6 340

Movida a álcool e gasolina ,Honda lança 1ª moto "flex" do mundo
.

A Honda do Brasil apresentou, em Manaus, AM, uma tecnologia para motocicletas produzidas em série inédita no mundo. Equipada como motor bicombustível com injeção eletrônica, a CG 150 Titan Mix pode rodar tanto com gasolina como com álcool. A novidade começou a ser desenvolvida em 2006, no Japão, e chega aos consumidores brasileiros ainda este mês.
Abastecido com álcool, o propulsor rende 14,3 cv de potência a 8 500 rpm e torque de 1,45 kgfm a 6 500 rpm. Isso significa ganhos nas cifras, já que a versão somente à gasolina alcança 14,2 cv e 1,32 kgfm. Entretanto, o sistema não permite utilizar somente álcool no tanque em todas ocasiões. Com a temperatura abaixo de 15º C é necessário o acréscimo de 2 a 3 litros de gasolina no tanque.
Um botão “Mix” acende no painel no momento em que a mistura do tanque possui a maioria de álcool, com um pouco de gasolina. Quando está com 100% de álcool, a luz "ALC" aparece no visor. E quando tem só gasolina as duas luzes ficam apagadas. De acordo com a Honda, 16 000 unidades da Mix serão produzidas por mês. Outras 16 000 continuarão sendo fabricadas com motor à gasolina. A Titan bicombustível tem três versões: KS (R$ 6 340), ES (R$ 6 890) e ESD (R$ 7 290).
Na mesma apresentação também foram lançados novos modelos da CG Cargo e da NXR 150 Bros.
Rafael Miotto / Raul Fernandes Jr., direto de Manaus

Honda lança 1ª moto "flex" do mundo












Primeira moto bicombustível de série do planeta, CG 150 Mix custa R$ 6 340

Movida a álcool e gasolina ,Honda lança 1ª moto "flex" do mundo
.

A Honda do Brasil apresentou, em Manaus, AM, uma tecnologia para motocicletas produzidas em série inédita no mundo. Equipada como motor bicombustível com injeção eletrônica, a CG 150 Titan Mix pode rodar tanto com gasolina como com álcool. A novidade começou a ser desenvolvida em 2006, no Japão, e chega aos consumidores brasileiros ainda este mês.
Abastecido com álcool, o propulsor rende 14,3 cv de potência a 8 500 rpm e torque de 1,45 kgfm a 6 500 rpm. Isso significa ganhos nas cifras, já que a versão somente à gasolina alcança 14,2 cv e 1,32 kgfm. Entretanto, o sistema não permite utilizar somente álcool no tanque em todas ocasiões. Com a temperatura abaixo de 15º C é necessário o acréscimo de 2 a 3 litros de gasolina no tanque.
Um botão “Mix” acende no painel no momento em que a mistura do tanque possui a maioria de álcool, com um pouco de gasolina. Quando está com 100% de álcool, a luz "ALC" aparece no visor. E quando tem só gasolina as duas luzes ficam apagadas. De acordo com a Honda, 16 000 unidades da Mix serão produzidas por mês. Outras 16 000 continuarão sendo fabricadas com motor à gasolina. A Titan bicombustível tem três versões: KS (R$ 6 340), ES (R$ 6 890) e ESD (R$ 7 290).
Na mesma apresentação também foram lançados novos modelos da CG Cargo e da NXR 150 Bros.
Rafael Miotto / Raul Fernandes Jr., direto de Manaus

A Biodiesel Maker’s Tale of Woe



When Imperium Renewables opened a plant in Washington state in 2007, it claimed to have built the largest biodiesel facility in the country.

Now, like so many others in the biodiesel industry, Imperium’s plant sits idle. Its big tanks are leased out as a storage facility for biodiesel made elsewhere.

I spoke earlier this week with John Plaza, Imperium’s founder. He has been through it all. Last year, Imperium had to pull out of an initial public offering, and it lost a cruise-line as a potentially huge customer.

This year, Mr. Plaza’s company has been buffeted by forces that range from a new European tariff on biodiesel to controversies over the environmental friendliness of the fuel. Conventional diesel prices have also plunged, undercutting the cost advantage of biodiesel.

“I don’t think we were smart enough to see the horrific storm of events that hit,” Mr. Plaza said.

During the year and a half that Imperium was intermittently operating, the company exported most of its biodiesel to Europe. Mr. Plaza declined to give an exact percentage.

But this spring, Europe slapped a tariff on American biodiesel exports — and Mr. Plaza reckoned that no American-produced biodiesel is headed to Europe anymore.

The United States market, he said, was always the long-term hope for Imperium. The federal government’s “renewable fuel standard” calls for 500 million gallons of biodiesel to be used in the United States this year. But the Environmental Protection Agency has been slow to issue a rule that backs up the mandate, and Imperium and other producers have been left hanging.

“The gist of the story is we have mandated demand put in place by the government that has failed,” Mr. Plaza said.

Last week, the E.P.A. issued its long-awaited proposed rule for implementing the mandate. But the rule — which biodiesel makers think could be approved in the fall — creates another problem for the industry. Biodiesel does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough compared to petroleum, the E.P.A. says.

That’s because of a concept called “indirect land use” — the idea that that growing crops to make biodiesel could displace crops for food. Those food crops could then theoretically relocate to places like Indonesia, where carbon-digesting rainforests are sometimes cut down to make way for crops.

“What’s frustrating, one, is it’s not really based on science or fact, it’s based on theory,” Mr. Plaza said of the E.P.A. land-use proposals, echoing the criticisms voiced by the National Biodiesel Board, an industry association.

Mr. Plaza also wants to separate Imperium’s feedstock, canola — a Canadian crop that fuels the Washington refinery when it is working — from soybeans, the principal biodiesel feedstock in the United States.

“Canola is lumped into the same indirect land-use criteria that soybeans are, and I think that’s a huge disservice to the populace,” he said.

Asked to forecast when Imperium’s plant might resume production, he replied, “I think if I did, there would be a lot of people paying me big dollars for a crystal-ball mentality.” The best-case scenario, he added, was the fourth quarter, or “hopefully sooner.”

Meanwhile, he said, Imperium could survive through next year on the storage leasing income (Mr. Plaza would not specify the lessee company, calling it only a “global trader of sorts”).

But “if nothing changes by 2011, there will be re-evaluating across the industry,” he said.

A Biodiesel Maker’s Tale of Woe



When Imperium Renewables opened a plant in Washington state in 2007, it claimed to have built the largest biodiesel facility in the country.

Now, like so many others in the biodiesel industry, Imperium’s plant sits idle. Its big tanks are leased out as a storage facility for biodiesel made elsewhere.

I spoke earlier this week with John Plaza, Imperium’s founder. He has been through it all. Last year, Imperium had to pull out of an initial public offering, and it lost a cruise-line as a potentially huge customer.

This year, Mr. Plaza’s company has been buffeted by forces that range from a new European tariff on biodiesel to controversies over the environmental friendliness of the fuel. Conventional diesel prices have also plunged, undercutting the cost advantage of biodiesel.

“I don’t think we were smart enough to see the horrific storm of events that hit,” Mr. Plaza said.

During the year and a half that Imperium was intermittently operating, the company exported most of its biodiesel to Europe. Mr. Plaza declined to give an exact percentage.

But this spring, Europe slapped a tariff on American biodiesel exports — and Mr. Plaza reckoned that no American-produced biodiesel is headed to Europe anymore.

The United States market, he said, was always the long-term hope for Imperium. The federal government’s “renewable fuel standard” calls for 500 million gallons of biodiesel to be used in the United States this year. But the Environmental Protection Agency has been slow to issue a rule that backs up the mandate, and Imperium and other producers have been left hanging.

“The gist of the story is we have mandated demand put in place by the government that has failed,” Mr. Plaza said.

Last week, the E.P.A. issued its long-awaited proposed rule for implementing the mandate. But the rule — which biodiesel makers think could be approved in the fall — creates another problem for the industry. Biodiesel does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough compared to petroleum, the E.P.A. says.

That’s because of a concept called “indirect land use” — the idea that that growing crops to make biodiesel could displace crops for food. Those food crops could then theoretically relocate to places like Indonesia, where carbon-digesting rainforests are sometimes cut down to make way for crops.

“What’s frustrating, one, is it’s not really based on science or fact, it’s based on theory,” Mr. Plaza said of the E.P.A. land-use proposals, echoing the criticisms voiced by the National Biodiesel Board, an industry association.

Mr. Plaza also wants to separate Imperium’s feedstock, canola — a Canadian crop that fuels the Washington refinery when it is working — from soybeans, the principal biodiesel feedstock in the United States.

“Canola is lumped into the same indirect land-use criteria that soybeans are, and I think that’s a huge disservice to the populace,” he said.

Asked to forecast when Imperium’s plant might resume production, he replied, “I think if I did, there would be a lot of people paying me big dollars for a crystal-ball mentality.” The best-case scenario, he added, was the fourth quarter, or “hopefully sooner.”

Meanwhile, he said, Imperium could survive through next year on the storage leasing income (Mr. Plaza would not specify the lessee company, calling it only a “global trader of sorts”).

But “if nothing changes by 2011, there will be re-evaluating across the industry,” he said.

RP seeks P20b from Brazil’s ethanol makers


By Othel V. Campos

The government is seeking P20 billion in investments from Brazilian biofuel makers to finance five bio-ethanol distilleries that the government wants to put up in the Philippines, an agriculture official said yesterday.

“We’ll be leaving Friday. We already submitted five proposals to partner with Brazilian ethanol producers for bio-ethanol projects here in the Philippines,” said Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. president Marriz Agbon.

Agbon said an ethanol plant coulde cost a minimum of P4 billion “so by rule of thumb, we are eyeing a total of P20-billion investments for bio-ethanol alone.”

The Philippines presented the proposals to select companies who are members of Unica, the Brazilian federation of sugarcane and ethanol manufacturers.

A select group of sugarcane planters will join the Philippine delegation to Brazil as part of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s official entourage.

“This is a specific investment proposal that we submitted to several members of the federation only. We’re hoping to forge joint-venture agreements with these companies,” Agbon said, adding that the P4-billion tag price included a 5-hectare plantation of feedstock and a processing plant of 30 million liters annual capacity.

“Since [Brazilians] are 40 years ahead of us [in bio-ethanol production], we’re hoping to come across a cost-effective arrangement and the use of high-yielding [sugarcane] varieties,” Agbon said.

Agbon said the Philippines had already signed an agreement for agricultural research and commercialization with a Brazilian corporation.

The Philippines expects to sign a technical agreement on the exchange of germplasm of high-yielding sugarcane varieties and technological exchange in high-value crops, specifically mango, coffee and rubber.

RP seeks P20b from Brazil’s ethanol makers


By Othel V. Campos

The government is seeking P20 billion in investments from Brazilian biofuel makers to finance five bio-ethanol distilleries that the government wants to put up in the Philippines, an agriculture official said yesterday.

“We’ll be leaving Friday. We already submitted five proposals to partner with Brazilian ethanol producers for bio-ethanol projects here in the Philippines,” said Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. president Marriz Agbon.

Agbon said an ethanol plant coulde cost a minimum of P4 billion “so by rule of thumb, we are eyeing a total of P20-billion investments for bio-ethanol alone.”

The Philippines presented the proposals to select companies who are members of Unica, the Brazilian federation of sugarcane and ethanol manufacturers.

A select group of sugarcane planters will join the Philippine delegation to Brazil as part of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s official entourage.

“This is a specific investment proposal that we submitted to several members of the federation only. We’re hoping to forge joint-venture agreements with these companies,” Agbon said, adding that the P4-billion tag price included a 5-hectare plantation of feedstock and a processing plant of 30 million liters annual capacity.

“Since [Brazilians] are 40 years ahead of us [in bio-ethanol production], we’re hoping to come across a cost-effective arrangement and the use of high-yielding [sugarcane] varieties,” Agbon said.

Agbon said the Philippines had already signed an agreement for agricultural research and commercialization with a Brazilian corporation.

The Philippines expects to sign a technical agreement on the exchange of germplasm of high-yielding sugarcane varieties and technological exchange in high-value crops, specifically mango, coffee and rubber.

Foul odor from waste lagoon to be treated


BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines—San Carlos Bioenergy Inc., the country’s first ethanol plant found in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, is putting up a facility to reduce the foul odor from its plant that residents up to 10 kilometers away have been complaining about.

The anaerobic digester will be operational in two to three months, said Judito Salvador, the firm’s community relations manager. It will convert wastes into biogas, according to the website balitapinoy.net.

It will also biologically treat wastes to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions, Salvador said.

The integrated ethanol distillery and power cogeneration plant, located at the San Carlos Agro-Industrial Economic Zone, is the first in Southeast Asia. It started operation only in January.

So far, it has produced about 5 million liters of ethanol that its sells to Petron Corp.

The plant can produce up to 30 million liters of ethanol yearly and eight megawatts of power, its website said.

The distillery processes feedstock of mixed juice from sugar cane crushed on-site while its cogeneration plant uses the residual sugar cane pulp known as bagasse as primary fuel.

Salvador said the foul odor was coming from the wastewater treatment lagoon, which was now being treated with lime and enzymes.

Complaints about the “obnoxious order” have come from as far the residents of Calatrava town, about 10 km from San Carlos.

Calatrava Councilor John Mark Fabroz said the smell “like human waste” would reach the town proper at night, usually starting at 9 p.m.

Fabroz said he would file a resolution before the municipal council to ask the firm to abate the “obnoxious odor.”

He said he had also received reports that the odor had reached Toboso town, which is 30 km from San Carlos.

Toboso Mayor Evello Valencia Jr. said he had not smelled the foul odor, but some residents had told him that they did.

But Valencia said he could definitely smell the odor when he passes through San Carlos, even with the windows of his car rolled up.

Valencia said he would raise the matter at the Inter Local Health Zone meeting of the first district.

San Carlos Mayor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he was confident that the company would address the air pollution.

The methane produced during anaerobic digestion will be used as supplemental fuel for the boiler, the website said.

Foul odor from waste lagoon to be treated


BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines—San Carlos Bioenergy Inc., the country’s first ethanol plant found in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, is putting up a facility to reduce the foul odor from its plant that residents up to 10 kilometers away have been complaining about.

The anaerobic digester will be operational in two to three months, said Judito Salvador, the firm’s community relations manager. It will convert wastes into biogas, according to the website balitapinoy.net.

It will also biologically treat wastes to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions, Salvador said.

The integrated ethanol distillery and power cogeneration plant, located at the San Carlos Agro-Industrial Economic Zone, is the first in Southeast Asia. It started operation only in January.

So far, it has produced about 5 million liters of ethanol that its sells to Petron Corp.

The plant can produce up to 30 million liters of ethanol yearly and eight megawatts of power, its website said.

The distillery processes feedstock of mixed juice from sugar cane crushed on-site while its cogeneration plant uses the residual sugar cane pulp known as bagasse as primary fuel.

Salvador said the foul odor was coming from the wastewater treatment lagoon, which was now being treated with lime and enzymes.

Complaints about the “obnoxious order” have come from as far the residents of Calatrava town, about 10 km from San Carlos.

Calatrava Councilor John Mark Fabroz said the smell “like human waste” would reach the town proper at night, usually starting at 9 p.m.

Fabroz said he would file a resolution before the municipal council to ask the firm to abate the “obnoxious odor.”

He said he had also received reports that the odor had reached Toboso town, which is 30 km from San Carlos.

Toboso Mayor Evello Valencia Jr. said he had not smelled the foul odor, but some residents had told him that they did.

But Valencia said he could definitely smell the odor when he passes through San Carlos, even with the windows of his car rolled up.

Valencia said he would raise the matter at the Inter Local Health Zone meeting of the first district.

San Carlos Mayor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he was confident that the company would address the air pollution.

The methane produced during anaerobic digestion will be used as supplemental fuel for the boiler, the website said.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Copenhague - sonhos e realidades


Copenhague, a capital da Dinamarca, próspero país no norte da Europa, vai sediar no fim deste ano a 15ª reunião dos países signatários da Convenção do Clima, adotada no Rio de Janeiro em 1992 (Rio-92), na qual os governos dos países participantes (mais de 180) se comprometeram a reduzir as emissões de gases responsáveis pelo aquecimento global. Afora a retórica, contudo, nenhum país assumiu em 1992 compromissos concretos de reduzir tais emissões, o que só foi feito cinco anos depois, em 1997, no Japão, onde foi adotado o Protocolo de Kyoto. Foi nessa ocasião que as esperanças e os sonhos gerados em 1992 começaram a se chocar com a realidade. Os países industrializados aceitaram reduzir modestamente suas emissões nos 15 anos seguintes (até 2012), mas os demais (incluindo China, Índia e Brasil) não aceitaram nenhuma limitação, usando argumentos de natureza política. O principal é o de que os países industrializados foram os grandes emissores no passado e, portanto, têm responsabilidade histórica pelo que está acontecendo, cabendo a eles resolver o problema. Esse argumento se origina na concepção terceiro-mundista, comum em muitos países em desenvolvimento, que culpa as potências coloniais pelos problemas que enfrentam. Essa visão leva às reivindicações por "compensações" pelos males do passado e a propor, por exemplo, que os espanhóis paguem pela destruição da civilização asteca. No Brasil vemos isso frequentemente na discussão sobre cotas para afrodescendentes nas universidades públicas. É ela que alimenta a ideia de que os países em desenvolvimento só tomarão as medidas necessárias para reduzir suas emissões se os países ricos lhes transferirem as tecnologias e os recursos necessários para tal, apesar de emitirem tanto quanto os países industrializados; além disso, suas emissões estão crescendo mais rapidamente. Consequência disso é que os EUA - o maior emissor mundial - não ratificaram o Protocolo de Kyoto; a União Europeia (UE) é o único bloco de nações engajado até agora seriamente em reduzir suas emissões. Estima-se que seria necessário transferir US$ 100 bilhões por ano. No presente, apenas pouco mais de U$ 1 bilhão por ano está sendo transferido, o que mostra quão irrealista é a posição dos países em desenvolvimento de esperar que os países industrializados paguem pelos custos da redução das emissões. A conferência que se realizará em Copenhague tem por objetivo reformular o Protocolo de Kyoto e, eventualmente, substituí-lo por outro que conte com a adesão dos EUA e um engajamento real dos países em desenvolvimento. O que se pode esperar realisticamente dela? Em primeiro lugar, a UE já decidiu tornar suas metas mais rigorosas e pretende reduzir suas emissões em 20% abaixo do nível de 1990, usando o método já em operação de permitir a troca de emissões entre empresas. Esse método encoraja avanços tecnológicos e as empresas mais eficientes podem vender certificados de emissão às menos eficientes. O mercado europeu de emissões já atingiu o nível de dezenas de bilhões de dólares por ano. Em segundo lugar, os EUA estão próximos de adotar um sistema de metas e troca de emissões, propondo-se a reduzi-las em 17% abaixo do nível de 2005. O que se espera como resultado é uma grande expansão do mercado de emissões europeu para um mercado transatlântico que incluirá o Canadá e o México. Essas medidas concretas para a redução de emissões esvaziarão o argumento dos países em desenvolvimento de que, se reduzirem as suas, vão facilitar a vida dos países industrializados, que continuarão a emitir. Provavelmente, tais medidas levarão a China a abandonar a recusa de aceitar limitações às suas emissões e participar, assim, do grande mercado de emissões que se está delineando. Se isso ocorrer, o que se espera dos demais países em desenvolvimento? De acordo com o "mapa do caminho" adotado em Bali, na 13ª reunião dos países signatários da Convenção do Clima, os países em desenvolvimento comprometeram-se a adotar "ações de mitigação apropriadas, em nível nacional", que são voluntárias, mas sujeitas a verificação. Exemplo dessas ações voluntárias é a anunciada pelo Brasil, na 14ª reunião da Convenção, em Poznan, de que reduziria o desmatamento da Amazônia em 30% até 2013 e outros 40% até 2017. Que outras ações podem ser tomadas? A exemplo do que fez a UE, as ações (ou metas) podem ser setoriais, isto é, atingir certas indústrias mais do que outras. A lei em discussão no Congresso americano tem as mesmas previsões. Sendo realista, o Brasil poderia começar a pensar seriamente em adotar o mesmo procedimento, o que poderia ampliar muito os recursos do Mecanismo de Desenvolvimento Limpo (MDL), que se tornou extremamente burocrático e movimenta recursos muito menores do que as transações que existem no mercado europeu. Por exemplo, a produção atual de etanol da cana-de-açúcar, que evita o lançamento de cerca de 40 milhões de toneladas de CO2 por ano na atmosfera, não se qualifica hoje para o MDL, mas poderia ser objeto de transações no mercado europeu (e provavelmente nos EUA); essa quantidade de carbono tem um valor de mercado de cerca de US$ 1 bilhão. Outra ação seria a comercialização de créditos de carbono resultantes do desmatamento evitado, que não pode depender apenas de filantropia internacional, como é o caso atualmente. De novo, aqui, um mecanismo de mercado que mantenha o carbono na floresta poderia gerar um grande fluxo de recursos para o País. Há condições de se alcançar um acordo em Copenhague, mas é necessário menos ideologia e mais realismo nas negociações em curso. Lei pioneira aprovada pela Câmara Municipal de São Paulo, por proposta do prefeito Gilberto Kassab, vai mais longe ainda, fixando uma meta para a redução das emissões de carbono até 2012. José Goldemberg é professor da Universidade de São Paulo

Copenhague - sonhos e realidades


Copenhague, a capital da Dinamarca, próspero país no norte da Europa, vai sediar no fim deste ano a 15ª reunião dos países signatários da Convenção do Clima, adotada no Rio de Janeiro em 1992 (Rio-92), na qual os governos dos países participantes (mais de 180) se comprometeram a reduzir as emissões de gases responsáveis pelo aquecimento global. Afora a retórica, contudo, nenhum país assumiu em 1992 compromissos concretos de reduzir tais emissões, o que só foi feito cinco anos depois, em 1997, no Japão, onde foi adotado o Protocolo de Kyoto. Foi nessa ocasião que as esperanças e os sonhos gerados em 1992 começaram a se chocar com a realidade. Os países industrializados aceitaram reduzir modestamente suas emissões nos 15 anos seguintes (até 2012), mas os demais (incluindo China, Índia e Brasil) não aceitaram nenhuma limitação, usando argumentos de natureza política. O principal é o de que os países industrializados foram os grandes emissores no passado e, portanto, têm responsabilidade histórica pelo que está acontecendo, cabendo a eles resolver o problema. Esse argumento se origina na concepção terceiro-mundista, comum em muitos países em desenvolvimento, que culpa as potências coloniais pelos problemas que enfrentam. Essa visão leva às reivindicações por "compensações" pelos males do passado e a propor, por exemplo, que os espanhóis paguem pela destruição da civilização asteca. No Brasil vemos isso frequentemente na discussão sobre cotas para afrodescendentes nas universidades públicas. É ela que alimenta a ideia de que os países em desenvolvimento só tomarão as medidas necessárias para reduzir suas emissões se os países ricos lhes transferirem as tecnologias e os recursos necessários para tal, apesar de emitirem tanto quanto os países industrializados; além disso, suas emissões estão crescendo mais rapidamente. Consequência disso é que os EUA - o maior emissor mundial - não ratificaram o Protocolo de Kyoto; a União Europeia (UE) é o único bloco de nações engajado até agora seriamente em reduzir suas emissões. Estima-se que seria necessário transferir US$ 100 bilhões por ano. No presente, apenas pouco mais de U$ 1 bilhão por ano está sendo transferido, o que mostra quão irrealista é a posição dos países em desenvolvimento de esperar que os países industrializados paguem pelos custos da redução das emissões. A conferência que se realizará em Copenhague tem por objetivo reformular o Protocolo de Kyoto e, eventualmente, substituí-lo por outro que conte com a adesão dos EUA e um engajamento real dos países em desenvolvimento. O que se pode esperar realisticamente dela? Em primeiro lugar, a UE já decidiu tornar suas metas mais rigorosas e pretende reduzir suas emissões em 20% abaixo do nível de 1990, usando o método já em operação de permitir a troca de emissões entre empresas. Esse método encoraja avanços tecnológicos e as empresas mais eficientes podem vender certificados de emissão às menos eficientes. O mercado europeu de emissões já atingiu o nível de dezenas de bilhões de dólares por ano. Em segundo lugar, os EUA estão próximos de adotar um sistema de metas e troca de emissões, propondo-se a reduzi-las em 17% abaixo do nível de 2005. O que se espera como resultado é uma grande expansão do mercado de emissões europeu para um mercado transatlântico que incluirá o Canadá e o México. Essas medidas concretas para a redução de emissões esvaziarão o argumento dos países em desenvolvimento de que, se reduzirem as suas, vão facilitar a vida dos países industrializados, que continuarão a emitir. Provavelmente, tais medidas levarão a China a abandonar a recusa de aceitar limitações às suas emissões e participar, assim, do grande mercado de emissões que se está delineando. Se isso ocorrer, o que se espera dos demais países em desenvolvimento? De acordo com o "mapa do caminho" adotado em Bali, na 13ª reunião dos países signatários da Convenção do Clima, os países em desenvolvimento comprometeram-se a adotar "ações de mitigação apropriadas, em nível nacional", que são voluntárias, mas sujeitas a verificação. Exemplo dessas ações voluntárias é a anunciada pelo Brasil, na 14ª reunião da Convenção, em Poznan, de que reduziria o desmatamento da Amazônia em 30% até 2013 e outros 40% até 2017. Que outras ações podem ser tomadas? A exemplo do que fez a UE, as ações (ou metas) podem ser setoriais, isto é, atingir certas indústrias mais do que outras. A lei em discussão no Congresso americano tem as mesmas previsões. Sendo realista, o Brasil poderia começar a pensar seriamente em adotar o mesmo procedimento, o que poderia ampliar muito os recursos do Mecanismo de Desenvolvimento Limpo (MDL), que se tornou extremamente burocrático e movimenta recursos muito menores do que as transações que existem no mercado europeu. Por exemplo, a produção atual de etanol da cana-de-açúcar, que evita o lançamento de cerca de 40 milhões de toneladas de CO2 por ano na atmosfera, não se qualifica hoje para o MDL, mas poderia ser objeto de transações no mercado europeu (e provavelmente nos EUA); essa quantidade de carbono tem um valor de mercado de cerca de US$ 1 bilhão. Outra ação seria a comercialização de créditos de carbono resultantes do desmatamento evitado, que não pode depender apenas de filantropia internacional, como é o caso atualmente. De novo, aqui, um mecanismo de mercado que mantenha o carbono na floresta poderia gerar um grande fluxo de recursos para o País. Há condições de se alcançar um acordo em Copenhague, mas é necessário menos ideologia e mais realismo nas negociações em curso. Lei pioneira aprovada pela Câmara Municipal de São Paulo, por proposta do prefeito Gilberto Kassab, vai mais longe ainda, fixando uma meta para a redução das emissões de carbono até 2012. José Goldemberg é professor da Universidade de São Paulo

Brasil terá centro para álcool de celulose


EDUARDO GERAQUE
da Folha de S.Paulo

O Brasil deve iniciar neste ano um esforço para não perder a corrida dos biocombustíveis do futuro. Em setembro, começa a funcionar em Campinas (interior paulista) o Centro de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol, um instituto dedicado a pesquisar formas de obter o máximo de energia da celulose das plantas.

A corrida pelo álcool de segunda geração vem sendo liderada pelos EUA, que investem maciçamente nessa linha de pesquisa. O objetivo é tornar o álcool de celulose comercialmente viável num prazo curto --menos de dez anos.

Isso permitirá transformar em combustível matérias-primas que hoje vão para o lixo, como a palha de cana, ou, no caso americano, um capim chamado "switchgrass" e também a palha do milho.

O investimento inicial do MCT (Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia) no projeto brasileiro é de R$ 69 milhões. Para comparação, os Estados Unidos vão investir US$ 1 bilhão em nove refinarias do tipo, entre 2008 e 2013.

Para 2010 em diante, ano de mudança dos governos federal e estadual, não existe um orçamento definido. Não é a primeira vez que que se anuncia um centro nestes moldes no Brasil.

O Brasil hoje, como os demais países, usa comercialmente a chamada tecnologia de primeira geração de etanol. A sacarose da cana é fermentada para então dar forma ao álcool.

Daqui em diante, entretanto, cientistas e empresas pensam no desenvolvimento da chamada segunda geração.

Seu desenvolvimento envolve quebrar a parede celular da cana-de-açúcar, composta de celulose e potencialmente rica em energia. O problema é que a celulose não fermenta, e sua quebra precisa ser feita por meio de enzimas ou solventes. Até hoje não se conseguiu fazer isso em escala comercial, mas o prêmio para quem conseguir é grande.

"Pelos nossos cálculos, é possível ter um ganho de produção na mesma área plantada de cana da ordem de 40%", afirma o botânico Marcos Buckeridge, da USP, recém-escolhido diretor científico do CTBE.

O grande ícone do novo centro, entretanto, deve começar a ser testado em janeiro. "Teremos uma planta piloto totalmente voltada para a segunda geração", diz Buckeridge.

O time de cientistas do CTBE terá 42 pessoas. Parte do grupo terá o desafio de quebrar a parede celular sem o uso de solventes caros e sem a produção colateral de muitos resíduos.

Em três ou quatro anos, calcula Buckeridge, esse campo de pesquisa deve começar a render frutos. Resta saber se no Brasil, nos EUA ou na Europa.

Brasil terá centro para álcool de celulose


EDUARDO GERAQUE
da Folha de S.Paulo

O Brasil deve iniciar neste ano um esforço para não perder a corrida dos biocombustíveis do futuro. Em setembro, começa a funcionar em Campinas (interior paulista) o Centro de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol, um instituto dedicado a pesquisar formas de obter o máximo de energia da celulose das plantas.

A corrida pelo álcool de segunda geração vem sendo liderada pelos EUA, que investem maciçamente nessa linha de pesquisa. O objetivo é tornar o álcool de celulose comercialmente viável num prazo curto --menos de dez anos.

Isso permitirá transformar em combustível matérias-primas que hoje vão para o lixo, como a palha de cana, ou, no caso americano, um capim chamado "switchgrass" e também a palha do milho.

O investimento inicial do MCT (Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia) no projeto brasileiro é de R$ 69 milhões. Para comparação, os Estados Unidos vão investir US$ 1 bilhão em nove refinarias do tipo, entre 2008 e 2013.

Para 2010 em diante, ano de mudança dos governos federal e estadual, não existe um orçamento definido. Não é a primeira vez que que se anuncia um centro nestes moldes no Brasil.

O Brasil hoje, como os demais países, usa comercialmente a chamada tecnologia de primeira geração de etanol. A sacarose da cana é fermentada para então dar forma ao álcool.

Daqui em diante, entretanto, cientistas e empresas pensam no desenvolvimento da chamada segunda geração.

Seu desenvolvimento envolve quebrar a parede celular da cana-de-açúcar, composta de celulose e potencialmente rica em energia. O problema é que a celulose não fermenta, e sua quebra precisa ser feita por meio de enzimas ou solventes. Até hoje não se conseguiu fazer isso em escala comercial, mas o prêmio para quem conseguir é grande.

"Pelos nossos cálculos, é possível ter um ganho de produção na mesma área plantada de cana da ordem de 40%", afirma o botânico Marcos Buckeridge, da USP, recém-escolhido diretor científico do CTBE.

O grande ícone do novo centro, entretanto, deve começar a ser testado em janeiro. "Teremos uma planta piloto totalmente voltada para a segunda geração", diz Buckeridge.

O time de cientistas do CTBE terá 42 pessoas. Parte do grupo terá o desafio de quebrar a parede celular sem o uso de solventes caros e sem a produção colateral de muitos resíduos.

Em três ou quatro anos, calcula Buckeridge, esse campo de pesquisa deve começar a render frutos. Resta saber se no Brasil, nos EUA ou na Europa.

Shell’s Cellulosic ‘First’ Is More of a Second

PumpShell Shell and ethanol maker Iogen made much ado last week about the “first” commercial gas station selling cellulosic ethanol — in Ottawa, Canada. But was it the first?

Much fanfare attended the arrival in Ottawa earlier this week of Luis Scoffone, Royal Dutch Shell’s vice president of biofuels. Mr. Scuffone flew in from England and descended, along with John Baird, Canada’s transport minister, on a large Shell station at Merivale Road — an undistinguished avenue of strip malls and big box stores.

It was here, at a single pump, Shell said in a news release, where customers could become “the first in the world to fill their tanks with gasoline containing advanced biofuel made from wheat straw.”

That was news to MacEwen Petroleum, however — a small regional service station chain based in Maxville, Ontario.

MacEwen apparently beat the multinational giant to the punch almost five years ago at a station in downtown Ottawa. And it did so, it seems, using ethanol from Iogen, a cellulosic ethanol maker also based in Ottawa, which recently became half-owned by Shell.

The attraction of cellulosic ethanol is that it’s made from agricultural and forestry waste materials rather than crops grown to produce fuel. That, its promoters hope, will allow it to escape the food-versus-fuel debate which has plagued ethanol made from corn and other crops.

Iogen, which also is supplying the ethanol for Shell’s month-long promotion, uses enzymes to break down wheat straw and make about 60,000 liters of ethanol a month at its demonstration plant in Ottawa.

In an interview following the Shell news conference, Brian Foody, Iogen’s president and chief executive, acknowledged that some of the production not needed by Iogen in the past for testing has gone into the pool of ethanol used for gasoline blending.

“There have been molecules from our plant that have made their way into cars,” Mr. Foody said.

Gas stationIan Austen/The New York Times MacEwen Petroleum, a small service station operator in Ottawa, said it was selling cellulosic ethanol five years ago. It also said it has been approached by Iogen about supplying ethanol for a MacEwen pump that sells an 85 percent ethanol blend, pictured above.

But executives at MacEwen, which was once a major Iogen customer, said they were a bit surprised, and somewhat amused, by the claims from Iogen and Shell.

When Ottawa hosted the 2004 Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League’s championship, MacEwen and Iogen offered a week long, cellulosic ethanol promotion at a busy station near an expressway in downtown Ottawa.

MacEwen was an early promoter in Canada of ethanol-blended gasoline. Marcel Labelle, the company’s vice president of sales and supply said “we were particularly careful about putting only their product in” the gasoline sold at that station’s ethanol blend pumps during the week preceding the football game.

The effort was publicized in a news release, and official Grey Cup vehicles, which were fueled at the MacEwen station, bore photos of wheat straw, the Iogen logo and the slogan: “Fueled with low CO2 cellulose ethanol.”

Outside of that promotion, Mr. Labelle said that MacEwen regularly purchased most of Iogen’s production during 2004 and 2005 and blended it, at varying levels, into gasoline.

“When we were doing this, the major oil companies wouldn’t touch ethanol,” Mr. Labelle said. “It was taking refined product out of their system. They’ve been caught out. And I’m sure Shell doesn’t want to be embarrassed.”

Kirsten Smart, a spokeswoman at Royal Dutch Shell in London, qualified the company’s earlier claim in an e-mail message on Friday:

“We believe this is the first customer offering where over a month long period consumers can knowingly purchase gasoline with a 10 percent blend of cellulosic ethanol, and the first time it has been actively marketed.”

Phil von Finckenstein, a spokesman for Iogen, said in telephone conversation and by e-mail that MacEwen only offered “a low-level blend” in 2004, not the 10 percent cellulosic mix now on sale at Shell. He added that the pumps were primarily for Grey Cup vehicles. “The public was happenstance if they got the fuel,” Mr. Finckenstein said.

Mr. Labelle, after consulting company records, agreed that early customers may have received slightly less than 10 percent cellulosic ethanol because there initially was some residual gasoline blended with corn ethanol in the station’s storage tanks.

But that gas station is replenished more than once a week, Mr. Labelle said. So many motorists received gasoline only blended with cellulosic ethanol.

Iogen, Mr. Labelle said, has approached MacEwen about supplying ethanol for a pump at the downtown station that sells an 85 percent ethanol blend, which is used mostly by federal government vehicles. If something comes of those talks, Mr. Labelle said he expected the cellulose marketing machinery to kick in again.

“Once they are done with us,” he said, “they’ll issue another press release.”