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Biofuel, the Brazilian way
Powering cars with ethanol made from Brazilian sugar cane reduces CO2 emissions from transport fuel. Raízen – the joint venture between Shell and Brazilian biofuels firm Cosan – uses advanced technology to make the process of turning sugar cane into ethanol more efficient. It has also joined with others to lead the way in sustainable production.
From cultivation to use, ethanol made from sugar cane produces around 70% less CO2 than petrol. As it grows, sugar cane absorbs more CO2 than other biofuel crops. The savings also come from factors such as transport and processing.
Raízen, Shell’s joint venture with Cosan, produces more than 2 billion litres of ethanol a year and with this expected to double. It is one of the world’s largest biofuel producers.
To raise crop yields, Raízen uses new technology. For example, its own advanced geographical information system draws on a number of sources, such as official soil records, public weather stations and real-time imaging of its 800,000 acres.
Then advanced mathematical modelling calculates how conditions affect crops. The results better inform agricultural managers who, for example, add more fertiliser or target pest control to help boost productivity.
Raízen burns leftover plant fibres for power – surplus electricity goes to the national grid
Raízen has also found ways to support sustainable production. To drive its mills it burns leftover plant fibres: power not needed is supplied to the national grid.
Like other ethanol producers, Raízen also turns by-products into natural fertilisers for sugar cane: nutrient-rich crumbly solids, from filtering the juice, and a liquid left when ethanol is distilled.
Together with others, Raízen has established an EU-approved certificate for sustainable sugar-cane production. The BonSucro certificate covers areas such as human rights and the impact of activities on biodiversity.
Raízen has 10 of its mills certified, with clear targets to complete the certification of all 24 mills by 2017.