News Release: NREL, Brazilian Energy Company to Collaborate on Bioenergy

Nov. 20, 2008 | By George Douglas | Contact media relations

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) announced today that they have signed an agreement that could accelerate the development and international commercialization of biofuels.  The announcement was made at the International Biofuels Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The NREL/Petrobras agreement will help achieve the goals of the United States and Brazil memorandum of understanding to advance cooperation on biofuels signed by the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Brazil Foreign Minister Celso Amorim on March 9, 2007.

“By bringing Brazilian expertise together with some of the leading U.S. biofuels researchers at NREL, we will increase our knowledge and be able to more quickly commercialize renewable biofuels in the global marketplace,” said NREL Director Dan E. Arvizu.

Petrobras and NREL have common interests in the development of advanced next generation biofuels technologies through biochemical and thermochemical routes from biomass.  NREL conducts R&D related to technoeconomic, environmental and sustainability evaluation of advanced biofuels in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and other partners.

Petrobras’ research and development center (CENPES) conducts research on bagasse to ethanol, vegetable oil conversion to diesel oil components (H-Bio) and production of biomass-derived petroleum-like fuels using thermochemical technologies.

“The use of residues can substantially increase ethanol production without a correspondent increase of the planted area, boosting the existing process’ production by using its own residues,” said CENPES Executive Manager, Carlos Tadeu da Costa Fraga.

The agreement identifies four major areas of advanced biofuels research collaboration: biochemical production processes, thermochemical processes, economic and sustainability analysis from lignocellulosic biomass and evaluation of intermediate blends of ethanol and gasoline.

Objectives of the collaborative research are to:

  • Improve biomass compositional analysis and biochemical conversion performance measurement quality control and assessment methods that will lead to more efficient biochemical synthesis.
  • Advance biomass pyrolysis oil production, characterization and upgrading processes for production of diesel and jet fuel.
  • Expand and enhance integrated models for technoeconomic evaluation of advanced  biofuels systems with attention to environmental and sustainability considerations
  • Share data and information on the evaluation of intermediate blends

NREL is a DOE Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) managed and operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. Petrobras is the largest energy company in Latin America.