Brazil’s Ethanol Will Power Japan’s Car Fleet

Brazil agreed Monday to help Japan develop the ethanol industry and thus reduce the country’s fuel bill.

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Brazil’s Ethanol Will Move Japan’s Car Fleet
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Brazil agreed Monday to help Japan develop the ethanol industry and thus reduce the country’s fuel bill.
 
Brazil’s Development, Industry and Commerce Minister Luiz Fernando Furlan and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai met in Tokyo for the first session of the high-level task force established last May.

Both ministers agreed to share and exchange ethanol industry information and assess the possibilities of large-scale imports to Japan in the near future.

Brazil is the largest ethanol producer in the world and the only major exporter of the fuel distilled mostly from sugar cane.

Last March, the Japan Alcohol Trading company and Brazil’s state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) established a joint venture to enable Japan to import alcohol made in the South American nation from sugar cane.

The new company, called Brazil-Japan Ethanol, will have the exclusive franchise for selling Brazilian ethanol in Japan.

According to Kyodo news agency, the Japanese Petroleum Association already advanced its intention of purchasing an estimated 360,000 kiloliters (2.3 million barrels) of sugar cane ethanol by fiscal year 2010 which should also help Japan meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

Ethanol from agriculture is already in use in France, Spain and Germany, among other nations. Made from crops such as corn and sugar cane, ethanol is basically grain alcohol and is usually mixed with unleaded gasoline and can be pumped into vehicles at existing service stations.

The main downside to using alcohol as a fuel is that it is highly corrosive, requiring modifications to the engine and fuel system.

Brazil, however, has perfected the flexible fueled vehicle (FFV) technology invented by the Ford Motor Co. in the mid-1980s to allow vehicles to operate with any combination of fuels.

Proálcool, a program for the mass production of ethanol from sugar cane was introduced by the Brazilian government in 1975 as a response to the effects of the first global energy crisis.

Ethanol was hailed at the time as "the fuel of the future" because it was cheaper than gasoline, came from a renewable source and burned cleanly, unlike fossil fuels.

In the 1980s, alcohol-fueled vehicles eventually accounted for about 90% of Brazilian production and sales, but supply problems made them practically disappear from the market in the late 1990s.

"Now it’s different, because with the flex system the consumer has a guarantee that if there are problems with the supply of one fuel, they can switch to another," Alfred Scwarc, a consultant to the São Paulo sugar industry’s Unica trade association, said last December.

Scwarc, who labelled the growth of the bio-fuel fleet "astonishing" said the sugar industry, unlike in the 1990s, this time was ready to meet demand for ethanol.

"We are in the process of expanding, of investing in new plants and distilleries to increase agricultural and industrial production" underlined Mr. Scwarc.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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