The use of ethanol as fuel in Brazil will complete a century

0000002639-Agroenergia_baixaEmbrapa Agroenergy – It has long been used fuel produced by microorganisms in Brazil. Ethanol was first used in Otto cycle engines, about 50 years before the launch of Proalcool. Historical records show that in 1925, a 4-cylinder car brand Ford participated in a race of 230 km in the city of Rio de Janeiro, using 70% ethyl alcohol as fuel. Image of this car is immortalized in the book commemorating 80 years of the creation of the National Institute of Technology and is reproduced in Figure 1. Subsequently, the INT was itself made possible the production of anhydrous ethanol for blending with gasoline, allowing editing of Decree 19717 of February 20, 1931, which required importers of gasoline to blend 5% ethanol to fossil fuel.

In the period between the publication of Decree 19,717 and the beginning of World War II, alcohol was used in varying proportions, according to the availability and mainly with the production of sugar for export, since alcohol was just a byproduct valuable in the manufacture of sugar.

During World War II, the fuel assumed role of great importance, since the difficulty in importing oil limited the production of gasoline. The alcohol was then high strategic value, and in some Northeastern states the percentage of alcohol in gasoline reached 42% (Correia, 2007).

In the thirty years that followed the end of the War (1945-1975) the blend of ethanol in gasoline was determined by the international sugar market, ethanol serving the “regulator” of stocks of sugar. As a consequence of variable composition, the engines of the cars had no regular performance, which displeased consumers and the auto industry.

However, as a result of rising oil prices on the international market, the Brazilian government launched in 1975, the National Alcohol Program (Proalcool), which had, at first, in order to produce anhydrous ethanol for blending with gasoline, because the country was almost completely dependent on imports of fuel last.

In its design, the Proálcool aimed to:
– reduce dependence on foreign fuels;
– reduce the deficit in the balance of payments;
– contribute to the development of national technology;
– internalize the social and economic development;
– contribute to the growth of production of capital goods;
– generate employment and income in the country.

Soon after launch, the Proalcool experienced great success because it was possible, through tax incentives and funding from government banks at interest advantageous installing distilleries to produce ethanol from the sugar mills. During the harvest of 1975/76 to 85/86 ethanol production increased from 555 million liters to 11,830 million liters, an increase of over 2,000% in production.

From 1975 to 1985, all the goals were achieved Proalcool, and another was obtained: the auto industry launched vehicles with engines powered by hydrous ethanol fuel as sole or mixed with gasoline. Meanwhile, Proalcool not always kept victorious journey .. Figure 2, which shows the evolution of total ethanol production is representative of situations experienced by that production. During the first period after the launch of Proalcool total ethanol production increased from 556 million liters in 1975/1976 to 2.491milhões in the 1978/1979, which corresponds to an increase of nearly 350% in four harvests
In the most recent period, harvests in 2000/2001 to 2008/2009 the total production of ethanol (anhydrous computing hydrated +), increased from 10,593 billion to 27,513 billion liters (UNICADATA, 2012), representing average annual increase of 17 75% The increase huge amount in ethanol production was due mainly to the launch and popularity of cars with flex-fuel engines. In 2011, the Otto cycle engine vehicles that could use hydrous ethanol (flex fuel and ethanol exclusively) reached 55.4% of the Brazilian fleet, which was in circulation, just over 29 million vehicles with Otto cycle engines ( UNICADATA, 2012).

The international financial crisis in 2008, reversed the growth trend in ethanol production, mainly due to uncertainty generated worldwide, and also in Brazil, as the market for renewable fuels. Almost all investments in building new mills and distilleries, which could ensure increased production of ethanol have been delayed and now (2012) there is still no certainty about the recovery of these investments.  added the international financial crisis is a temporary situation Internal maintaining constant prices of fuel oil products in order to restrain inflation. This price suppression compromised the competitiveness of hydrous front of the gasoline, which led to a sharp decrease in demand for the renewable fuel, while consumption of non-renewable gasoline was encouraged.
This situation containment prices nonrenewable fuels is certainly transient, hoping that soon the production and use of ethanol will be stimulated, making this biofuel regains role in the country and the world . Brazilian ethanol is considered an “advanced fuel” by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. such “status” opens up huge international market. An alliance between Brazil and the United States (the two largest producers and consumers of fuel ethanol) to enlarge, so expressive, the supply of biofuel will be a decisive step in the “commoditization” of ethanol, creating stable market, valued and internationally respected.

Source:  Embrapa Agroenergy, 6th March, 2013
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One response to “The use of ethanol as fuel in Brazil will complete a century

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