Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ethanol: a competitive market for Brazil

Researchers from the Brazilian Instituto Nacional da Propriedade da Industrial (INPI) carried out a study on the ethanol production chain. According to their study “Bioethanol from sugar cane”, Ethanol is one of the Brazilian assets in global debates (on biofuel), however Brazil will no longer gain a competitive (and market share) if they do not invest more in research and technological development.

The source went on to explain that Brazilian companies and citizens dominate patent applications when related to ethanol. Yet, when more complex processes related to biotechnology such as fermentation to produce the fuel, Brazil already shares the lead with the US. At this stage they rely on numbers: 656 patent applications were made between 1974 and 2006, Brazil accounts for 442 (68% of total), well ahead of the US. Note that this national technology refers to equipment and processes of planting, harvesting and soil preparation. However, when speaking of fermentation from microorganisms for ethanol, the US accounts for 25% of patent applications against 24% in Brazil. Japan appears close behind with 15%.

The researchers observe that fermentation is even more important for the development of “second-generation ethanol". Their conclusion is that Brazil needs to invest heavily in research so that it will not lose its position in the business of biofuel.

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