Ethanol Production in Brazil
Over the last 40 years there have been a number of technological advancements which have contributed in the development of the fermentation industry in Brazil which basically revolves around the production of Ethanol in Brazil. Now a days new technologies have been introduced which have been really helpful in the production of ethanol from sugarcane. The control of fermentation condition plays a very important role in controlling the stress condition related to the yeast cells and also the chances of these cells being contaminated by bacteria are also decreased. Since 1970, the ethanol produced in Brazil is used as a fuel in major parts of the world. According to latest research, the Brazilian ethanol is a substitute for 40% of gasoline which would otherwise be used in different countries. The demand for Brazilian fuel is increasing rapidly as the government is highly interested in using it as an alternate for fossil fuels. The government is making policies which will put a great impact on the land and as a result the crop production will be better in those specific areas.
Ethanol production in Brazil:
If we analyze all the biofuels which are currently being used in different parts of world, ethanol has all the spot light since it is already being produced in large quantities and the prices are way more competitive as compared to gasoline. In 2008, the Brazilian association got a rough estimate of the average annual production of ethanol which was around 20 billion liters. After calculating the estimate of ethanol production, they measured the estimate for gasoline production which was 10% higher than the ethanol production. Under these circumstances, using ethanol as a substitute for gasoline seemed a reasonable decision at that time. The production of ethanol can also be associated with the production of sugarcane which is a higher production biomass yielding. Moreover, as technology has improved the working and structure of enzymes, the cellulose which comes as a residue in the ethanol production can be help in increasing the average production up to 9000 liters hectare. There are two major ways by which ethanol can be produced, it is either by chemical or microbiological methods. The chemical method for ethanol production is based on the hydration of ethylene while the microbiological method includes the fermentation of yeast. However yeast is not the only microorganism involved in ethanol production, there are many other microorganism involves in ethanol production. Presently, the major method used for ethanol production is the microbiological method. This method of microbiological ethanol production is called alcoholic or ethanoic fermentation. During the process of alcoholic fermentation, sugar is converted in to ethanol, energy and other biological by products. As far as Brazil is concerned, the main source of ethanol is sugarcane whereas in the United States they use corn for the ethanol production. Plants like corn or sugarcane are considered as the C4 plants which means that they have a higher ability to convert the atmospheric carbon dioxide and water in to sugar and the polymers of sugar which includes, starch and cellulose by the process of photosynthesis. The ethanol produced as a result of fermentation has a reduction rate upto 62%. The microbiological studies which have been done in Brazil have been really crucial. A lot of improvements and various developments have been made. All the past investments which were made for the research and development projects have also impacted other industries and increased their interest in ethanol production from sugarcane and vegetables as well. Now a days more technological advancements are being made in the industry to improve the process of alcoholic fermentation and use it for better purposes. The Brazilian industries have verified various difference among the ethanol producing industries which includes sugarcane and its composition. Distilleries that are attached to these ethanol producing industries help in the production of the molasses along with diluted water. There are number of benefits which can be gained from the process of fermentation if it is carried out properly however the significant gains can be easily lost because of improper techniques and low cost adaptations.
Growth of Biofuels:
Over the centuries, people have familiarized themselves with various technologies for ethanol production. However the process that involved the commercial production of ethanol initially began in 1970. It was the time when the oil crisis began and oil prices increased to an alarming number which resulted in a decrease in the prices of sugar which resulted in strengthening the ethanol producing industries. In 1975, the Brazilian National Ethanol Program initiated the production of Ethanol in Brazil. In Brazil the production of ethanol increased up to 0.60 billion m^3. However, in the year 1986 there was a drastic decrease in the prices of oil which effected the whole idea of ethanol producing industries and the government of Brazil was not able to maintain and support the fermentation industries at that time. The loans which were requested were immediately declined by the government and as a result of increased price of sugar cane there was a greater decline in the production of Ethanol in Brazil. It was the time when ethanol was almost nowhere to be found in any gas stations which resulted in the customers to lose their vote of confidence they had in the Proalcool program. ((Matsuoka et al., 2009). Even in the past, biofuels were considered really important especially when oil and gasoline prices were rapidly increasing. These biofuel is considered as renewable and has large efficiency and bears a very low cost as compared to other products. The most appropriate example of the biofuel is Ethanol production in Brazil. The use of ethanol is an ultimate source of clean energy alternative in place of gasoline and it is the probably the best substitute in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission for the transport purposes. (Martha, 2016) the Brazilian government made new and advanced policies which that encouraged the production of ethanol on a global level. As far as Brazil is concerned, the production of ethanol is considered as a breakthrough performance on industrial level. The development of this ethanol production plan got better during 2003. As a result of rapid progress that was made in the biofuel industry, in the year 2010 at least 86% of the vehicles were sold and they were all flex fuel. On the other hand, there were a number of concerns which became evident during the 2000s that the production of these biofuels were a hazard to the food production which is exactly why the food security has been concerned especially in the areas where there is not enough food supply. The fuel versus food debate has been a prominent issue in Brazil. Moreover, all the environmental problems which had direct association with the production of the biofuel were also highlighted so that the government of Brazil does not ignore the consequences of producing ethanol. The major concern for Brazil after these issues were raised included the choice of land that would be suitable for the production ethanol. After tons of research it was suggested that the areas where there is a marginal growth of the sugarcane will be suitable and it will be helpful in the displaced activities of agriculture at a frontier level. According to a research done in 2011, the area which is most suitable for the sugarcane production has now been replaced by the gazing lands for the animals but the production of staple food has not been effected. The marginal lands bear low costs which is why they are suitable for sugarcane growth production. This is the most suitable situation both for the biofuel and the food security which had their concerns about the production of sugarcane which is later used for fermentation. There are a number of ways by which the government can help increase the agricultural production. The most important way is to increase the area of cultivation. The major concern of Brazil at this point is the yield gain by increasing the area of cultivation. In the reference the future policies are reviewed and different strategies are applied so that there is a win-win situation for everyone.
Ethanol and gasoline blend strategy has been a part of Brazil since 1993. At that time, the percentage of blending was around 20-25% however if you analyze the recent years for instance, 2003-2006 the blending has been up to 20%. By that time when the gasoline prices increased the government increased the percentage to almost 23%. In rainy seasons, there is always a considerable decrease in the production of sugarcane which means there is less production of ethanol and a drastic increase in the prices of ethanol as well. In addition to the mandate blending of ethanol there is a specific amount of tax which is collected from this procedure. This tax is distributed to three different categories which includes, to pay the subsidies, to provide finance to all the environmental projects which are under process and to finance the production of the transportation.( Agroenergy Yearbook 2010) Apart from these taxes there is an IPL tax which is applied over all the newly purchased cars in Brazil. This tax is much lower for those cars which ethanol instead of gasoline as gasoline consumes more energy as compared to ethanol.
In Brazil, the National Bank for Social and Economic Development is the major source of finance for all the research and development projects. Other than this bank, there are many other programs which are specifically designed to support the agricultural programs and they are related to the harvesting programs. In 2011, the Brazilian president requested a new plan which was entirely based on the production and consumption of ethanol. According to the ministry of the agriculture, there were a number of meeting where the president himself discussed future plans for the ethanol production. At that time it was not going exactly as they had planned since the prices of sugarcane were really low however, the government abandoned all other projects and they redirected the investments to the sugarcane and ethanol production plans which required more time and attention at that time.
The burning of sugarcane straws can cause serious smoke which is usually quite dense and it is not good for the environment. The government of Brazil noticed this issue and made sure that the raw sugarcane is burned in the slope areas where there is less population nearby and it will be strictly prohibited in those areas which hold the possibility of mechanization. Moreover, there are laws that are made in order to give license for ethanol distillation. The government’s reaction to all the issues have been high professional and it was all about the production of ethanol. For a country like Brazil, the production of ethanol is a great opportunity to develop the agricultural sector without harming the biodiversity. However there is still room for improvement.
MAPA – Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (2010). Agroenergy Yearbook 2010. At: http://www.agricultura.gov.br/arq_editor/file/Desenvolvimento_Sustentavel/Agroenergia/anuario_agroenergia/ index.html
Martha, G. (2008). Dinâmica de uso da terra em resposta à expansão da cana-de-açúcar Cerrado. Revista de Política Agrícola, 17(3): 31-43
Secretariat of the Federal revenue of Brazil (2011b). At: http://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/pessoajuridica/pispasepcofins/regincidencia.htm
Sugarcane Agroecological Zoning (2010). At: http://www.unica.com.br/downloads/sugarcaneagroecological-zoning.pdf