Biofuels Bring Brazil’s Future Within Its Grasp

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In 2010, Brazil produced 2.4 billion litres of biodiesel, or about 22 percent of the world total. That puts it just behind Germany, with about 23 percent, and ahead of the US, with about 18.5 percent, according to figures from the US National Biodiesel Board, the Union zur Förderung von Oel und Proteinpflanzen of Germany, the Argentinean ministry of agriculture and Brazil’s national petroleum agency.

“We expect Brazil to overtake Germany and become the world leader in biodiesel this year,” says João Artur Manjabosco, sales manager for biodiesel at agribusiness company Camera Agroalimentos.

Brazil Takes the Future Into Own Hand

Biodiesel is used by mixing it with fossil-based diesel, much as fuel ethanol is often mixed with petrol. Under the Brazilian government programme, a mixture of 2 percent was authorized between 2005 and 2007 and became mandatory from 2008. The original plan was to increase this to 5 percent from 2013 but instead the proportion was raised to 3 percent in July 2008, 4 percent in July 2009 and 5 percent from January 2010.

“If the mixture remains unchanged, we expect economic growth will take consumption of biodiesel in Brazil to 4.2 billion litres by 2019,” says Manjabosco. “But we believe that by 2019 the mixture will have increased to 10 percent. That’s a monstrous amount of biodiesel, and Brazil has the capacity to meet it. ●

* The author works with Alfa Laval.