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Posted on  

September 29, 2000

Brazil to Use Soy, Sugar for Biodiesel

Officials at Brazil's Parana State Institute of Technology (PSIT) recently said that the country could soon begin producing cleaner-burning biodiesel refined from soy products and sugarcane. The effort would serve to reduce emissions produced by Brazil's urban vehicle fleets and rural farm machinery, while boosting its soyoil market.

Brazil's sugarcane millers already produce two types of ethanol -- hydrous and anhydrous alcohol. Special engines are required in order for a vehicle to run on hydrous alcohol, while anhydrous alcohol is blended with gasoline and sold all over the country as "gasohol."

Biodiesel producers in the U.S. and Europe commonly use petroleum-based methanol to make biodiesel. However, Brazilian officials hope to use ethanol to produce biodiesel. The Brazilian government considers burning methanol an environmental hazard.

"We are looking to break with European production of biodiesel, which involves methanol," said Germano Ottomann, production director at COAMO, a Brazilian co-operative which is currently testing biodiesel derived from soyoil and ethanol "We have an abundant supply [of ethanol] in Brazil and it pollutes less than the petroleum-based alcohol [methanol]."

PSIT engineer Jose Carlos Laurindo said biodiesel products would most likely enter the Brazilian market in such areas as Mato Grosso, which is Brazil's top soybean-growing state. Ottmann noted that the fuel will "never compete with the price of diesel...[but could] exist because of government regulations on pollution in cities."


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