And this percentage tends to improve as new technologies are already under development to increase the energy value of biofuels and engine efficiency, among others. "The agro-energy chain is focused on producing fuels more efficiently with a stable and predictable supply. The automotive sector, and FCA in particular, are committed to increasing the energy efficiency of ethanol combustion", he declared. The energy gap between ethanol and gasoline today is about 30%. That is, gasoline can offer 30% more energy than ethanol. "We are working to reduce this gap, using new concepts and new technology, some with their own patent", says João.
Among the features being worked on are calibration, cold start, air-fuel ratio, direct injection, turbocharging and thermodynamic improvement. With these advances, ethanol will gain even more relevance than it already has and will become strategic for the technological evolution of mobility with less impact on the environment.
But there is still a lot of work to be done together. The specifications for the fuel need to be improved such as reducing water content, for example. Ethanol´s second generation is still under development. With advancements in these areas, the use of ethanol in the energy matrix of mobility can be expanded, leading to improvements in the chain of vehicle consumption and thus reduce the level of CO2 emissions.
At the event, the Secretary of Evaluation, Planning, Energy and Lottery of the Brazilian Ministry of Economy, Alexandre Manoel da Silva, stated that the government will not interfere in the price of ethanol and intends to withdraw the regulatory restrictions within the sector. "Bioenergy production is an example of efficiency, with very few losses", he said. In 2020, the RenovaBio program will come into effect in the country, which foresees an annual investment of R$13 billion in the sector. Another program, Rota 2030, defined the rules for manufacturing cars produced or marketed in Brazil to encourage improvements in energy efficiency and reduce pollutants. Manufacturers that increase the efficiency of ethanol powered cars will have advantages.
For João, it’s up to Brazil to continue leading the development of ethanol. "Brazil has four decades of accumulated technology in the production of ethanol fuel and the vehicles that use it. Intensifying the option towards ethanol is a smart decision that takes into account the immense productive, logistics and distribution platform already in place in the country". In fact, Brazil has several advantages regarding this development. It has available space for planting sugarcane, knowledge of ethanol’s production technology, a consolidated distribution chain, flex engines in more than 85% of the light vehicles produced in the country and so on. In 2018, ethanol comprised one third of the total volume of fuels sold in Brazil. With the enhancement of technology, this percentage has everything it needs to increase. "We need to invest time, money and intelligence in this, and only Brazil can do it. No other country has an asset of this importance and magnitude", he argued. "For this we need a strategic agenda shared between government, companies, universities and society", he defended. “Ethanol will be viable even at the strict regulatory levels planned for 2022, it will be a competitive fuel for hybrid vehicles and can become the basis of efficient fuel cells", he concluded.
Words: Daniel Schneider