Will Blog for Experience: Ashley

I'm a student blogger for Experience.com and if my blog gets the most readers out of these 5 blogs I will be going to Washington, D.C. for a job shadow at the Department of Energy, courtesy of CBCampus. Experience is a career site specifically for college students & alumni. They provide extraordinary job opportunities, real-world insights, and a network of inspirational role-models to help students explore and launch careers they love. Keep reading my blog if you want me to lead this challenge!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Brazil and Biofuel

I have recently received another insightful comment.

"Anonymous" posts, "I'm surprised that you did not mention how Brazil is a country that is currently using biofuel (with sugar cane) as another standard means of providing a source of energy for running cars... even offering at "gas" station fuel derived from the sugar cane. The U.S. government would benefit from taking a closer look at its biofuel infrastructure..."

Although Brazil is not using biodiesel specifcally, the country has been experimenting with the idea of using biofuel since the 1980s. (Unlike biodiesel which is composed primarily of waste vegetable oil, Brazil's blend uses a mixture of alcohol, ethonol to Americans, and sugar cane.) Derived from the country's plentiful supply of sugar cane, Brazil's biofuel has received a lot of international attention due to the country's mass production of the fuel alternative.

How did biofuel get its Brazilian start?

Brazil realized the need to reduce its dependance on foreign oil while under the military government in power from 1964 to 1985. During the 1970s oil crisis, Brazil made the bold decision to look towards lessoning its oil dependancy. While the idea of using biofuel and its corresponding technology was not new at the time, no other country had put the knowledge into practice on such a large scale. "Under the Pro-Alcohol programme, farmers were paid generous subsidies to grow sugar-cane, from which ethanol was produced." The price of the biofuel "...was also subsidised to make the new fuel cheaper than petrol, while the motor industry turned out increasing numbers of vehicles adapted to burn pure ethanol."
The push towards biofuel resulted in the majority of Brazil's cars and motor vehicles being designed for alcohol consumption.

-quotes taken directly from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4581955.stm

Did Brazil face any challenges after implementing the use of biofuel?

Despite biofuel's early Brazilian success, the fuel alternative faced many challenges. First, the government shifted towards a civilian rule, and this shift allowed for a decreased interest in promoting the fuel for national security purposes. Sugar prices also rose, making the ethanol grant too expensive. Next, oil prices fell. Perhaps the most devastating blow to Brazil's biofuel initiative was the discovery of new offshore oilfields by Petrobras, the State oil company. This discovery lessened Brazil's vulnerability to the problems of pricing and availability of foreign oil, and in turn, made the country more self-sufficient in oil.

How did the biofuel effort respond?

Although biofuel was threatened by the above obstacles, the environmental argument continued to favor ethanol over petrol. Ethanol, unlike petrol, "...is free of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, while the carbon dioxide emissions it produces can be cancelled out by growing another sugar-cane plant." Despite biofuel's strong enviromental argument, interest in the fuel alternative reached its lowest point in 1997. Just a few years prior, "...more than 75% of all motor vehicles produced in Brazil - and more than 90% of cars - were designed for alcohol consumption." However, in 1997 "...just 1,075 motor vehicles built to run on alcohol rolled off the country's production lines - a mere 0.06% of the total output."

-quotes taken directly from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4581955.stm

What has become of Brazil's biofuel efforts?

Brazil's production of biofuel has taken another interesting turn! In the decade that has passed since Brazil lost its enthusiasm for biofuel, production has been reborn. In response to the rise in oil prices, Brazil has once again turned to biofuel for help. Again faced with the high price of petrol at the pump and risky dependancy on foreign oil, Brazil has realized the error of its premature decision to halt production of biofuel. This ironic turn of events has taught the country that despite the ever-changing oil trends, oil's availability and inevitable high price leave little room for its continued implementation.


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