Biomass the Smart Way to Reach Fuel Independence

Soares, Roberto
February 2012
International Journal of Business & Social Science;2012, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p196
Academic Journal
Since the First World War the replacement of gasoline by sugarcane-derived ethanol was considered the preferred mechanism to resolve the chronic trade deficit problem in the Brazilian economy. The production of fuel was monopolized by the government and several short-term initiatives to mandate the blend of ethanol into gasoline had unsuccessful resulted, mainly due to the lack of quality of the gasohol produced and the inadequacy of engines designed to use gasoline only. Finally by 1975 the PROALCOOL program was launched. "PROALCOOL," which means "pro-alcohol," is considered to be the most successful biomass program worldwide. Crude oil price increases by OPEC worked as a powerful impetus in the push for fuel independence. When crude oil reached the level of $35.00 per barrel, the shift from gasoline to ethanol became economically justified. Part of the success of this breakthrough should be credited to society which financed the experimentation phases of the program's development. The study demonstrated why factors like social costs, biomass selection, climate, field productivity, past experience, and, above all, a serious political decision were key elements to reach crude oil independence, which can be used as benchmark to freedom other economies.


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