Petrobras invests $400mn in biofuels through 2014

Petrobras plans to invest $400 million in biofuels over the next four years, the Brazilian oil giant’s head of technology management said on Thursday.

According to João Norberto Noschang Neto, biofuels development presents a major challenge on a global scale, and Petrobras hopes to maintain its leading position.

“We are using a number of approaches in our research, including the reuse of glycerin (a byproduct of biodiesel production), rejuvenation of mature fields, and even cellulosic ethanol and aviation biofuel development,” he said.

Norberto spoke at the Ethanol Summit in Sao Paulo.

He added that projects were already under way to exploit microalgae for producing oil feedstock for biofuels and to develop biotechnology platforms.

“We are also focusing on process sustainability and analyzing the biodiesel and ethanol life cycle throughout all production phases,” he said.

The official pointed out that one of the challenges facing the biofuels sector is vertical growth in productivity.

“Research has already shown that it is possible to improve productivity, even in first-generation ethanol, by extending harvesting periods, storing cane and rotating cane with other crops.”

Petrobras also prioritizing the development of second-generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol produced from cane bagasse, with an expected increase in productivity of 40%.

“Petrobras began its biofuels project in 2004, and in order to accelerate the process, we joined forces with Novozymes for their enzyme technology, and KL Energy to collaborate on testing and mature technology development,” said Norberto.

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