As the rest of the world gnaws over theÂ decision of whether ethanol is a feasible solution to the great fuel debate, Brazil is moving forward with their own ethanol vision. The Detroit Press has just concluded a three part series on Brazil’s transformation back to an ethanol dominant nation.
Back in the 1970’s while under military dictatorship Ethanol was the law and petroleum based engines were penalized. Then came democracy (coencidence) and a sugar boom in the 1980’sÂ that sent sugar prices through the ceiling and sent ethanol out the door. Now ethanol has returned full force to the Brazilian market and it looks like (for now) there is no turning back.
Two of the major blends of fuel available (besides diesel) are gasoline (which is 25 percent ethanol and 75 percent gasoline) andÂ alcool (which is 100% ethanol). Ethanol makes up 40% of Brazil’s total fuel use; a number that is certain to increase in the coming years as more distilleries are builtÂ andÂ greater sugar cane harvests are produced.
While the Brazilian example is a model for other nations it may not be one that applies across the board without some disparity. Nations must study their own needs and available resources to determine the best means to make the shift toward ethanol. While corn is an easy solution here in the U.S. it is not nearly as efficient a choice as sugar cane is in Brazil. Other options such as algae may be the sugar cane for the U.S.
For a more in-depth look at Brazil’s ethanol progress and conviction check out the full series at The Detroit News website.