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President Lula introduced to pioneering research in bioethanol


The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, visited Petrobras’ Research & Development Center (Cenpes) , to get to know the pioneering research Petrobras is carrying out with bioethanol, a fuel derived from agribusiness residues that represents the second generation of biofuels.

The president got to know the first Brazilian pilot unit used to produce bioethanol through enzymatic action and in operation at the Cenpes’ Pilot Plant park. The experimental unit was developed by the Cenpes in cooperation with Brazilian outfit Albrecth, and is part of the pilot testing stage for the new fuel’s production. The researchers will use agribusiness residues, particularly sugarcane bagasse, the most significant agricultural refuse in Brazil, in the equipment to produce ethanol with the same characteristics as conventional ethanol produced from sugarcane.

The experimental plant is an intermediary stage of the bioethanol (lignocellulose ethanol) research project Petrobras kicked-off in 2004, in cooperation with the Rio de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ) and other Brazilian universities. Petrobras has already applied for two patents at the National Intellectual Property Institute (INPI) as a result of this project and, with it, reached the milestone of one thousand patent applications made by the company. Based on the parameters resulting from the tests carried out in the current experimental unit. A semi-industrial bioethanol plant Will be built and is expected to go online in 2010.

Also while at Cenpes’ Pilot Plants, the president was introduced to other technological routes for biofuel production. One of them is the H-Bio, the hydrogenation process used to obtain diesel fuel through a mix of vegetable oils with oil-derived diesel fuel, developed at Cenpes and tested successfully at Petrobras’ refineries.

Two other technological routes developed by the Cenpes to produce biodiesel were also shown: the oil route, that uses vegetable oils and animal fat as a raw material; and the seed route, the raw material for which are oleaginous seeds. Petrobras has applied for patents at the INPI both in the H-Bio process and in the biodiesel technological routes.

After the visits to the Pilot Plants, the president and his entourage watched the presentation of seismic data at the Viewing Room. Three-dimensional images were shown of a seismic session in the bottom of the sea in oil exploration and production areas.

The Cenpes is the biggest research center in Latin America

The Cenpes is Petrobras’ study and research center that is dedicated to technological development and basic engineering (the area in charge of developing the company’s units’ conceptual and basic projects). Located at the Cidade Universitária (Ilha do Fundão), in Rio de Janeiro, the Research Center currently hires more than 1.800 people – 60 of whom holding Master’s degrees and doctorates.

The Cenpes’ facilities have some 30 pilot units and 140 labs spread in an area of more than 120,000 square meters. Research aimed at all Petrobras performance areas are developed there: oil & natural gas exploration & production, downstream, renewable energies, and sustainable development.

The research and development work done there has contributed for Petrobras to be acknowledged by the global oil industry for its technological excellence, both in oil and gas exploration and production, particularly in deep waters, and in the downstream area. With Petrobras’ expanding business and its focus on renewable energies, the Cenpes has been dedicating increasing efforts to develop technological alternatives to produce energy from renewable sources, with the spotlight on biofuels.

Facing new technological challenges, Petrobras is boosting its research & development infrastructure. Expansion work is in progress to double Cenpes’ facilities with new pilot units – part of which dedicated to the growing research in biofuels and other renewable energies. Investments in the Center’s expansion add up to more than R$900 million.


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