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Brazil to start large-scale production of ethanol from cellulose in 10 years

Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras announced Tuesday that it expects to start large-scale production of ethanol from cellulose between 2015 and 2020.

The first industrial plant to produce the fuel will be launched in the 2011-2015 period, the company added. According to Petrobras’ New Projects Manager Gilberto de Carvalho, the necessary technology will be “arriving at a commercial level” in 2015. Making ethanol from cellulose has been studied by companies all around the world. The process allows the production of an alternative fuel from biomass residues, including several types of vegetables. In Brazil’s case, ethanol would be extracted from sugarcane bagasse, enabling production to rise considerably without having to expand cultivation.

In addition to sugarcane, Petrobras is investigating other materials that contain lignocellulosic biomass, including certain types of wood. De Carvalho said Brazil needs to speed up development of the new technology, as investment in this area of fuel production is really taking off. According to De Carvalho, those who succeed first will occupy a higher position in the market ranking. Petrobras is also developing a project, in partnership with Japan’s Mitsui company, to build a pipeline to transport ethanol from Brazil’s midwest region up to the country’s ports. (