Greetings from Piracicaba –
We started the day at ELSAQ, the agriculture school for Sao Paulo University where we listened to our first speaker Professor Luiz Lehmann Coutinho. Professor Coutinho told us some interesting facts and described the curriculum ELSAQ offers. ELSAQ started as strictly an agriculture school but has now branched out to include studies in BioEnergy, BioTechnology and BioEconomy. ELSAQ is 80 to 90 percent financed through the state of Sao Paulo. One more statistic that was surprising is that there is no tuition. That’s right… No tuition!
The next presenter, Helaine Carrer explained the advancements in BioTechnology in sugar cane production around the world. Sugar cane thrives in the climate of south central Brazil. This is the biome where 87% of sugar cane is produced. Sugar cane is one of the most efficient crops produced in Brazil. When you break down the products from sugar cane production 51.1% of sugar cane is made into ethanol and 48.9% is made into sugar. When sugar cane is crushed there are two co-products: bagasse and sugar juice. The bagasse is reused in fermentation and the sugar juice is reduced form 85% liquid to a 40% concentrate called molasses. From there it is made into either sugar or ethanol.
Dr. Louiz Carlos Basso focused his presentation on the ELSAQ Biological Science Department. ELSAQ has a long tradition of research on the fermentation process of ethanol. It has been their specialty since 1920. Sugar cane production uses seven million hectare which is only about ten percent of the total hectare used for cropping in Brazil. Ethanol production provides for 4.5 million of the country’s jobs. Another statistic: Ethanol is only used in 2-3 percent of fuel consumption in the United States and an amazing 40 percent of the fuel consumption in Brazil. It does help that the Brazilian government mandates a 25 percent blend. There are contributions to the increased production of ethanol. They are: Better varieties of sugar cane; better yeast strains; better selection of yeasts; identify and manage stressors of Ethanol production. Ethanol in Brazil is continuously improving. When doing the research the Brazilians are increasing productivity by 3 to 4 percent every year.
The company Cosan was represented by Guiomar El Lisa Pardi and Mr. Gleubner. Cosan is a company that purchases the sugar cane and turns it into ethanol and sugar. They showed us a brief video on all the steps to making the two products. The videos detailed the complexity of ethanol and sugar production. Sugar cane is harvested once a year before production starts to taper. Sixty percent of sugar cane harvest is done mechanically while the other forty percent is still done manually. The sugar cane producers are paid on the quality (the greater the sugar content the better) and the quantity. One ton of sugar cane will produce nine liters of ethanol and one hundred forty-five kilos of sugar. Cosan is the seventh largest company in the world in sugar production. Brazil leads the world in sugar cane ethanol exports.
Jamie Finguerut represents CTC (sugar cane technology center). CTC is a private not-for-profit Research and Development organization directly related to the sugar cane, sugar and ethanol BioElectricity agribusiness in Brazil. Sugar cane production is continuing to increase every year while the cost of ethanol decreases due to research done by companies like CTC. One of their goals is to make ethanol a very efficient crop. The sugar cane community one of the wealthiest industries and Sao Paulo is the wealthiest city in Brazil. The closest competitor for Brazilian sugar cane ethanol is Australia. Ethanol took off in the 1970’s in Brazil due to the rising cost of petroleum. There is a pipeline of new varieties of sugar cane which will help increase productivity. Researchers do realize there are improvements to be made in cane production and expect large gains in production in the next five years. Jamie and CTC are confident that their research and research from other companies will make the world a more efficient place to live.
Flavio Castelar was our last presenter at ELSAQ. He represents APLA. They link all the steps in the ethanol production chain. They have twenty-three facilities throughout Brazil.
Our final stop for the day was the Case IH plant in Piracicaba. We were greeted by Gerry Salzman (Senior Director for Case IH Global Product Marketing Manager, Harvesting Division; IALP ’92). Vagner Furlan, the plant manager of the facility discussed the assembly process of the sugar cane harvesters, sprayers, planters and coffee harvesters. The first cane harvester was assembled in 1997 and in 2010 Case has about sixty-five percent of the market share for sugar cane harvesters in Brazil. Daniel Campos presented their marketing strategy and the future of the sugar cane industry. An interesting fact about cotton and sugar cane harvest is that to this day eighty percent is still harvest manually worldwide.
One thing is certain: Ethanol production is continually growing due to the increased demand and production of Flex Fuel Vehicles. Today the Class of 2010 walks away with a breadth of knowledge about a crop that is widely used but not widely produced in the United States. Our adventure continues tomorrow with presentations form CME/BMF; Banco Brazil, BNDES and ADM just to name a few…