As a pioneer in second generation ethanol, or cellulosic ethanol, production technology, Raízen is committed to developing the energy of the future, using renewable and more sustainable sources. The biofuel is generated from the by-products of sugarcane (bagasse and straw) used in the traditional process of manufacturing ethanol and sugar. Therefore we are able to increase our annual ethanol production, without needing to expand the area of cultivation.

 

In November, 2014, we began operating our first industrial plant for the manufacture of biofuel on a commercial scale. Finished in record time, the unit, located in Piracicaba (SP), allows for production of around 40 million more liters of ethanol a year.

 

Benefits of second generation ethanol:

  • Use of sugarcane and its by-products;

  • Use of raw materials already available in the units, presenting a logistical advantage;

  • Increased ethanol manufacture by up to 50% without expanding the area of cultivation;

  • Production of biofuel even during the off-season for sugarcane;

  • Reduction of carbon emissions during production, creating a cleaner fuel.

Technology and reuse

Raízen, in partnership with the Iogen Corporation, is one of the shareholders of Iogen Energy, which developed the technology for processing of biomass for the production of cellulosic ethanol. With the second generation technology, the by-products from the conventional manufacture of ethanol and sugar, which are already in part directed for the cogeneration of energy, become the raw material for this new generation of biofuel. During the production of cellulosic ethanol the residues pass through a pre-treatment in which the fibers are broken down and then transformed into soluble sugars by means of a process called “enzymatic hydrolysis”. In this stage, we use a specific enzyme technology for the production of second generation ethanol, developed by the Danish company Novozymes.

In the next step, fermentation converts the sugar to ethanol, which is purified through distillation and then sent to market. The composition of the final product is identical to first generation ethanol, differing only by the raw material used in the production process.

Until 2024, Raízen plans to build seven more cellulosic ethanol production plants, in addition to the first one inaugurated in Piracicaba. The expectation is that these units, by being located close to the first generation production plants, operate at maximum capacity and produce a billion liters of ethanol a year.
To find out more about how Raízen invests to increase the efficiency of its production processes and operations, take a look at our Sustainability Report.

 

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