Perspective of the Sugarcane Industry in Brazil
Received: 2 March 2011 / Accepted: 3 March 2011 / Published online: 29 March 2011 # Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
Abstract The sugarcane industry in Brazil is experiencing a rapid shift towards creating the grounds for a green and sustainablebiorefinary industry. After 30 years of ProAlcool, the federal government program that boosted Brazil’s sugarcane industry by creating a mandate to blend ethanol with gasoline, flex fuel engines now dominate Brazil’s automobile industry. Currently, bioethanol replaces around 30% of the gasoline consumed in the country and its demand is projected to more that double in the next 10 years. On another front,the sugarcane genomics program created by FAPESP in the late 1990s paved the way for the establishment of innovative biotechnology startup companies that attracted the attention of the largest agro-biotechnology sector companies of the world. Almost all of these companies now have their sugarcane research centers surrounding the city of Campinas, São Paulo. In addition, innovative synthetic biologycompanies are developing technologies to produce diesel, jet fuel and other high value molecules using sugarcane juice as a carbon source. The sugarcane industry also teamed with petrochemical companies and already established operating plants to produce bioplastics. Innovations have also occurred in the field of co-generation of electricity from sugarcane bagasse. Currently sugarcane supplies 4%of the
Communicated by: Paul Moore P. Arruda (*) Centro de Biologia Molecular e Engenharia Genética, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, 13083–875, Campinas, SP, Brazil e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org P. Arruda Departamento de Genética e Evolução, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, 13083–875, Campinas, SP, Brazil
electricity needs of the country. Collectively, theseinnovations suggest that Brazil’s sugarcane industry could supply over 30% of the country energy needs by 2021 and a significant fraction of new bioproducts produced by its nascent biorefinary plants. Keywords Sugarcane . Biofuel . Biotechnology
Introduction Sugarcane has been grown on an industrial scale for the production of sugar in over 90 countries around the world for about hundred years. But inthe past 10–15 years, the crop has gained great attention for its unprecedented potential to help alleviate the world demand for sustainable energy production. The Brazilian sugarcane industry experience is one of the clearest examples of a country-wide industrial success by the joint efforts of agricultural and biological sciences interacting with engineering and the auto industry to develop amodern agro-industry to fill a national need. This story started during the 1970’s oil crisis when the Brazilian federal government created ProAcool, a program focused in producing ethanol as an alternative liquid fuel to substitute for imported oil (Andrietta et al. 2007). ProAlcool established an initial mandate to blend gasoline with 5% ethanol. Throughout the ensuing years of consolidation andexpansion of the sugarcane industry, the ethanol automotive fuel blend increased to 22% of ethanol in all gasoline sold in the country (Matsuoka et al. 2009). During this 30-year period, agricultural practices and management greatly improved and sugarcane breeding programs developed new and more productive varieties adapted to diverse growing regions from the subtropical south to the tropical
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north of the country (Matsuoka et al. 2009). Concurrently, the sugarcane mills optimized their industrial processes and improved the logistic for collection, distribution and commercialization of ethanol all over the country (Goldemberg et al. 2008). Unfortunately, despite the progress of the sugarcane industry in the production of sugar and ethanol, the...