Although Brazil is a big petroleum producer, it still has to import diesel for the country’s trucks and buses. But the addition of a biodiesel mixture can reduce that dependence, says Sergio Dialetachi, who works for Greenpeace. It is also a clean fuel of the future, he adds.
“By adding a 2% mixture of vegetable oils to diesel fuel, Brazil can reverse that situation. The country already produces enough gasoline, naphtha and kerosene to meet domestic demand. The problem is diesel that fuels an enormous fleet of trucks and buses and has to be imported.” explains Dialetachi.
Brazil’s state-run oil giant, Petrobras, has developed technology to produce biodiesel cheaply and efficiently using castor-oil plant which grow easily throughout the country. Biodiesel can also be obtained from soybeans and sunflowers.
A survey in 2002 by the Ministry of Mines and Energy found that 52.4% of transportation fuel used in Brazil was diesel (compared to 25.6% for gasoline and 11.9% for the country’s ethanol fuel made from sugarcane).
As a result, Brazil imports 6 billion liters of diesel annually, 15% of its needs, at a cost of US$1.2 billion each year. The addition of the 2% vegetable oil mixture would economize some 800 million liters annually.
Translator: Allen Bennett