Produced from renewable sources, ethanol and biodiesel, two of the main biofuels used in Brazil, contribute to mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution.
In 2008, we created Petrobras Biocombustível, a subsidiary tasked with producing biofuels with social and environmental responsibility. Operating in a sustainable manner, farmers contribute from the planting to the harvest of the plants used to produce biofuels at the mills.
Investments in the order of R$2.3 billion have been foreseen until 2018 to increase production.
Biodiesel is a biodegradable biofuel derived from renewable sources such as plant oils and animal fat. This biofuel can be produced in Brazil from different species of oilseed, such as castor beans, palm, canola, sunflower seeds, peanuts, soybeans and cotton, in addition to feedstock of animal origin such as beef tallow and pig fat.
Used alone, it can also be blended with diesel fuel - since 2010, all of the diesel fuel marketed in Brazil contains a 5 percent blend of biodiesel. We also trade the sludge (or gum), glycerin, and fatty acid, byproducts derived from the industrial process.
Plants belonging to and partnering with Petrobras Biocombustível have a total biodiesel production capacity of 821 million liters/year. The Ministry of Rural Development has granted to its units the Social Fuel Seal and, moreover, the subsidiary implements the Grow Program, providing technical visits to farmers and ensuring the purchase of the production at market price.
Since the late 1970s, when "Proálcool" (the National Ethanol Program) was rolled-out, ethanol gained great momentum and became an important source of energy for Brazil. Today, Brazilian ethanol made from sugarcane has the product's lowest production cost and highest yield in liters per hectare.
All of its byproducts are used: From the manufacturing of ethanol, we get vinasse and filter cake, used as fertilizer, and by burning bagasse we have power co-generation.
Research is being conducted into exploiting the pulp in the bagasse for the commercial use of second-generation ethanol, the ethanol of the future. This can enhance production capacity by 40 percent without increasing the area planted with sugarcane fields, affording more productivity, efficiency, and sustainability in the production cycle.
Besides investing in the technological development of ethanol, Petrobras Biocombustível, through affiliated companies, has an estimated production capacity of 1.5 billion liters of the product per year.
Ethanol without Borders
To better explain how ethanol transforms people's lives, we invited two young people to embark with us on an adventure into the countryside to get to know the secrets of ethanol. Watch the "Ethanol without Borders" webseries.