By Carol Mendes | Translation: Anthony Mendiola
Brazilians are accustomed to looking beyond petroleum for power. Brazil has long been on the leading edge of ethanol production. Another product, Bio-diesel is also one of the great natural resources of Brazil and is becoming a major part of a new world of alternative energy. In comparison to standard diesel, derived from petroleum, bio-diesel presents innumerable advantages.
Primarily, it presents an alternative to fossil fuels, which take millions of years to accumulate and are non-renewable. Bio-diesel is cleaner and much faster to produce. It can also be a great stimulus for jobs and income for the agricultural sector. This has the potential to consequently reduce the migration of people from the farms to the burgeoning cities. Reducing emissions of pollutants that reach the atmosphere and lowering costs of operating rural properties reinforce the benefits that fuel production can bring to the farmer.
Other advantages of using bio-diesel are that it is highly mixable with regular fuel, allowing most motors to utilize any percentage mixture with regular diesel. The heat produced per liter of biofuel is almost equal to that of diesel with lower emission of carbon particles. Bio-diesel is an “ester” and therefore, has two oxygen atoms in each molecule. In the burning of bio-diesel, complete combustion occurs. Less oxygen is necessary than that of the process of combusting diesel. If used as a combustible fuel, it has the added benefit of being an excellent lubricant and consequently may increase the useful life of the motors. In addition, its use does not require expensive adaptation of engines of trucks; tractors or other equipment and this alone is beneficial.
Brazil has a huge amount of land under cultivation that is capable of producing an enormous variety of oil containing plants, mainly produced in areas with less productive soil than that for crops for human consumption. Today, many companies and government agencies are spending money and time on research and exploration of petroleum.
This huge investment could be applied in a better way, since bio-diesel does not require this kind of investment. One can clearly foresee the positive effects of this fuel, using as an example a simple analysis of the benefits of adding ethanol to gasoline. The Ethanol industry, a powerhouse that generates a large volume of capital, has the ability to create jobs and generate revenue to the government through taxes.
This source of alternative energy is something that is technically feasible, but its cost today, from 1.5 to 3.0 times higher, makes it uncompetitive, and will remain so, especially if political and external factors are placed as a priority, ahead of ecological awareness and social benefits.
Bio-diesel is an economic, reliable and renewable alternative. It benefits the rural Agroindustry and it contributes to the economic sustainability of the cities. It can promote national and environmental interests, as well as meeting the needs of the consumer. As Lester Brown, the noted environmental thinker has said in his recent publication, “If we fail to build a new economy before decline sets in, it will not be because of a lack of fiscal resources, but rather because of obsolete priorities”