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24/08/2010 - 13:34hs
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Petrobras signs deal for cellulosic ethanol research

The Brazilian company established a partnership with the United States-based KL Energy for developing alcohol fuel production from sugarcane bagasse.



Rio de Janeiro – The Brazilian oil company Petrobras signed an agreement today (24th) with the United States-based KL Energy Corporation to further its research in cellulosic ethanol production from sugarcane bagasse. Presently, ethanol is produced only from cane juice. By producing the fuel from the bagasse (known as second generation biofuel), Petrobras expects to increase its ethanol output by up to 40% using the same amount of cane.

According to the manager of Petrobras Biofuels' Technological Management department, João Norberto Noschang, it is now possible to produce up to 86 litres of ethanol using one tonne of sugarcane. By using the bagasse from that same cane, the productivity may increase by up to 34 litres.

"Second generation biofuel uses residue from production processes. Thus, our objective is to increase ethanol production by at least 40%, with no need for deforestation and no need for growing more sugarcane," he claimed.

The research will be carried out at KL Energy's facilities in the city of Upton, in the United States. Petrobras is going to spend US$ 11 million in works for adapting the United States-based company's ethanol testing plant, and in the research per se. The agreement's duration is one year and a half.

According to Noschang, Petrobras has been researching ethanol from cane bagasse since 2004, but it has decided to establish a partnership in order to speed up the studies. He explains that Petrobras has opted for KL instead of a Brazilian company or university because the North American enterprise is already at an advanced stage of research. Besides, the research developed by KL is complementary to that of Petrobras.

According to the chairman of KL Energy, Peter Gross, the main advantage of his company is the fact that it already owns an ethanol testing plant, which would otherwise take roughly two years to be built. KL's plant in Upton will only require six months in order to be adapted to Petrobras' research, and thus a year and a half will be saved.

As the research moves forward, Petrobras intends to build Brazil's first plant for manufacturing second generation ethanol in 2013. The plant should be built next to an existing first generation ethanol plant owned by Petrobras.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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