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Eco-eficience and energetic analysis: fuel alcohol as a substitute for fossil fuels

PhD. Postulant: Luiz Calado Prof. Dr. Jürgen Pohlan (Supervisor)1 Prof. Dr. Klaus Frohberg2; Prof. Dr. Marc Janssens1 (Co-Supervisors) 1 Institut für Gartenbauwissenschaft der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn 2 Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung 1. INTRODUCTION The dependence on non-renewable fossil fuel is one of the main issues faced by modern society. The search for renewable sources is consolidating a tendency, on the one hand due to the likely extinction of petroleum deposits and the negative effects of global warming; on the other due to the economic impacts, especially inflation, caused by petroleum price changes as consequence of political crisis or exchange rate instability. As long as fuel for automotive vehicles and aircrafts are concerned, an alternative to gasoline is the use of fuel alcohol (C2H5OH), mixed with gasoline (EAFA ­ Ethyl Anidre Fuel Alcohol) or by itself (carburant hydrated alcohol). Fuel alcohol world production levels are near 40 billion liters, of which 25 billions are supposed to be used as an energetic source. Brazil alone is responsible for a production of nearly 15 billions of liters (UNICA, 2006). The tendency to use carburant alcohol in the world is unavoidable. Other countries are starting to mix ethanol with to gasoline at levels up to 10% (CESNIK and MIOCQUE, 2004). The Proálcool ­ Brazilian Alcohol Programme ­ allowed the country to become the world's largest alcohol producer and the exports forecasts from last year were greater than 2 billions of liters. The main destinations were: USA, Caribbean, India, Sweden, Nigeria and Korea. Historically, around 85% of the 6 million hectares of sugar cane growing areas were concentrated in the central-southern region - 60% in São Paulo) and the remaining 15% in the northern states (UNICA,2004). On the other hand, ethanol is a product of pernicious habits: on the one hand the subsidies to the producers, for an economic point of view, on the other the need to use great extensions of land for monoculture, for an environmental point of view. In this context, it is essential to analyze under the framework of both fields of specialization the gains and losses of large scale alcohol usage in order to check its viability as substitutes of fossil fuels. As long as environmental impacts are concerned, for example, producing alcohol requires a great deal of energy to produce, transport and transform sugar cane in liquid fuel. For illustration purposes, a study in the US show that the process of obtaining alcohol through corn processing consumes 80% of the total energy it produces (LORENZ and MORRIS, 1995). In addition, there are the many disadvantages of monoculture, like the intense use of the same natural nutrients (NEVES, WAACK and MARINO, 2003). On the other hand, large scale monoculture has also positive aspects, as shown by Frohberg et al (2001b), like the fact that sugar cane culture can contribute to diminish CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

In turn, government decisions through laws and decrees have impact on sugar cane culture. According to Pohlan (2005) and Gonçalves (2002), respectively, studing México and Brazil, restrictions on forests burning has had an impact on sugar cane culture, worsening the proliferation of bacterias that damage the sugar cane. From an economic point of view, alcohol is less efficient when used as automotive fuel. The loss can be as high as 50% (CALDAS, 2005). Recently, the increase on the use of sugar cane as input for ethanol production was one of the causes of high sugar price levels worldwide. Finally, protectionist decisions in some countries affect world commodities trade, as shown in the literature analyzing the junction of Eastern European countries into the EU, pointing out the role of financing flows (FROHBERG and HARTMANN, 2002) and socio-economic impact (FROHBERG e SCHULZE, 2000) at the agriculture sector. In his analysis, Frohberg (2005) considers as positive the impacts to sugar cane industry in southern countries due to the softening of custom rules, which brought new perspectives to those producers. As previously said, there are pros and cons concerning the use of fuel alcohol. The concept of ecoefficiency ­ simultaneous improved production and environmental performance (BLEISCHWITZ and HENNICKE, 2004) ­ can be employed to evaluate the performance of this productive sector. In this context, we find a lack of analytical tools without any nationalist bias to evaluate the fuel alcohol viability from both an economic and an environmental perspective. Considering the wide and multidisciplinary character of the subject, there is space for a more holistic comprehension of these elements, as proposed in this study, whose result will contribute to improving productive structures and developing new technologies, allowing grater efficiency on alcohol production and fewer energetic losses. 2. AIMS This project aims to employ the energetic model formulated by Odum (1996) to analyze the efficiency in obtaining fuel alcohol. The hypothesis to be studied, which constitutes the main issue of this work, is: "Is the alcohol from sugar cane, considering the agro-industrial system, a good (bad) substitute for fossil fuels, from an energetic matrix perspective? In other words, we intend to analyze the trade-off between the energy trades from that agroindustrial system and the environment and the gains from using the supposed cleaner source. In the background, complex environmental indicators outputs will be controlled. On the process of reaching our goals, some questions will be answered and published as scientific articles: 1) Which environmental variables are relevant in the sugar cane's productive chain for the production of alcohol? 2) Which factors have larger positive (negative) impacts on sugar cane's energetic utilization during all the transformation process into alcohol, both in small and large scale production?


3) Which are the similarities and differences between production processes in small and large scale units, identifying the main elements and qualifying the environmental impact of each model of production? 4) Considering the process as a whole ­ including transportation to final consumers ­ does the use of alcohol ease the climatic changes the planet has been suffering? 5) Which other socio-economic impacts does alcohol monoculture causes in the system it is inserted? Finally, we intend to determine the basic variables and model scenarios considering other renewable energetic sources, strategic decision of countries, as subsidies and import barriers. The result of this research will contribute, therefore, to provide practical knowledge to decisionmaking based in energetic, environmental and social policies related to sugar cane culture by politicians, managers, corporation directors or investors. 3. METHODOLOGY The adopted research method is supported by field research, using primary and secondary data. In a generic way, the starting point will be to comprehend the world context where alcohol production is inserted, based on the works by Frohberg (2005) and Pohlan et al (2004). After that, we will begin to explore the sugar cane improvement agro-industrial system in small and large scale production units in Brazil, based on the works of Caldas (2005), Neves, Waack and Marino (2003), Borrero et al (2003), and Teixeira et al (1999). On this first stage, our focus will be to analyze the main differences in production seeking to detect signs of potential energetic losses during the transformation process. Then, our focus will be a deeper analysis of these aspects, seeking to effectively measure the energetic cost in each stage of the production cycle. As the main tool, we have the emergy analysis by Odum (1996) contemplating the modifications proposed by Callado (2005) for studies in tropical areas. This theory is based on the premise that ecologic and economic systems are examples of selforganized systems, as shown by Krugman (1996), and are both governed by the same thermodynamic laws (AYRES, 1994). In other words, development, or even survival, is limited by the energy available and the capacity to transform that energy. Consequentially, it is possible to construct a common thermodynamic tool to analyze both aspects based on emergy calculations, that is, solar energy Joules necessary to produce a product or service. Will be also used others secundary models, which are related to an energetic analysis, like Janssens et al (2004; 2005), Pohlan et al (2000) and Santos (1997). In addition, we will also study a range of macro-environmental, economic and sustainability indicators, studied at ZEF (Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung), specially those mentioned by Frohberg (1991). We shall also consider studies of Frohberg et al (1996) about the climatic changes and impacts on agricultural sector, aiming to develop a specific model for the sector of alcohol fuel production.


In recent years, the researchers from IGW (Institut für Gartenbauwissenschaft) have been investigating sustainable process in many different cultures, as pointed out by Callado (2005), Pohlan (2002), Pohlan, Borgman and Leyva (1995) and Pohlan et al (2004), and this one specifically on sugar cane (Saccharum spp). The intersection of the reviewed models will allow developing quantitative metrics considering the issues related to the method, presented by Frohberg (1991). From this normative base, we will perform a field analysis of the sugar cane's agribusiness process, employing data and examining a few projects in the area, located in Brazil (northern region and São Paulo) and México - other tropical country which the University of Bonn (IGW) already has well-established partnerships with research teams. After data collection, we will investigate the factors that influence the energy loss in the chain, as well as eventual mitigating of these losses Concluding, the approached knowledge, added to the quantitative methodology proposed by Frohberg et al (2003), will be used to model future scenarios for the sector, seeking to anticipate impacts of countries commercial openings, as well as the entry of new supply players. 4. REFERENCES AYRES, R. (1994). Information, entropy and the progress. Woodbury, NY: AIP Press. BLEISCHWITZ, R. ; HENNICKE, P. (Org) (2004). Eco-efficiency, regulation and sustainable business: towards a governance structure for sustainable development. Cheltenham [u.a.]. Elgar. BORRERO, M. et al (2003). An environmental management method for sugar cane alcohol production in Brazil. "Biomass and Bioenergy", n. 25, p. 287-299. CALLADO, S. (Org) (2005). Energy, Exergy and Emergy of intertropical Crops. Seminar Assignment. Bonn: UTC Press. CALDAS, C. (2005) Teoria Básica das Análises Sucroalcooleiras. 1 ed. Piracicaba: STAB. CESNIK, R.; MIOCQUE, J.(2004). Melhoramento da cana-de-açúcar. 1 ed. Brasília: Editora Embrapa. FERNANDES, A. (2003) Cálculos na Agroindústria da Cana-de-Açúcar - 2ª Ed. Piracicaba: STAB. FROHBERG, K. (2005): Auswirkungen der EU-Zuckermarktreform auf die Entwicklung in der südlichen Hemisphäre(Effects of the European Union sugar market reform on the southern hemisphere development), in: LANGE, J. (Org): "Zucker: Markt oder ordnung? Die reform der zuckermarktordnung", Loccumer Protokolle 04/05, Evangelische Akademie Loccum. FROHBERG, K., et al (2003): Impacts of Croatia's agricultural trade policy on the agri-food sector: A quantitative partial-equilibrium analysis, in: KNDZIJA, V., KUMAR, A (orgs): "Theory and practice of transition and accession to the EU", Selected Papers of IV. International Conference, University of Ljubljana, Croatia, pp. 473-488. FROHBERG, K., HARTMANN, M. (2002): Financing Enlargement: The Case of Agriculture and Rural Development, in: HAMBURG INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: "Intereconomics", Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 71-77. FROHBERG, K., et al (2001a): The Influence of some Factors on Profitability of Large Scale Farms in the Volgograd Region, in: STAATLICHE AGRARUNIVERSITÄT OMSK (ed.): "Vestnik omskogo gosudarstvennogo agrarnogo universiteta", No. 1, pp. 104-114. FROHBERG, K. (2001b): Auswirkungen der Ost-Erweiterung auf die Beitrittsländer und die Agrarmärkte der EU (Effects of east enlargement on the acceding states and the agrarian markets of the EU), in: AGRARSOZIALE GESELLSCHAFT E.V. (ed.): "Ländlicher raum", Vol. 52, No. 1, Jan./Febr., pp. 46-52, (in German). FROHBERG, K., SCHULZE, E. (2000): Differences in the Agrarian Conditions East and West of the Elbe: Consequences for Socio-Economic Development, in: SCHEFOLD, B. (ed.): "Economic interests and cultural determinants in european integration", Europäische Akademie Bozen, No. 21, pp. 419 - 450.


FROHBERG, K., et al (1996): Impacts of Potential Climate Change on Global and Regional Food Production and Vulnerability, in: DOWNING, T. (org): CLIMATE CHANGE AND WORLD FOOD SECURITY, NATO ASI Series, Series I, Vol. 37, Springer Verlag Berlin, pp. 115-160. FROHBERG, K. (1991). "Review of Quantitative Modeling of Agriculture and the Environment" Working Paper ENV/EC/AGR (91)3, Directorate for Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Organisation für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (OECD), Paris. GONÇALVES, D. (2002) A Regulamentação das Queimadas e as Mudanças nos Canaviais Paulistas. São Carlos: Editora Rima Fabesp. JANSSENS, M. et al (2005). Relating agro-climax of orchards to eco-climax of natural vegetation. 7th International Symposium on Modelling in Fruit Research and Orchard Management; Copenhagen, 20-24 June, 2004. JANSSENS, M. et al (2004) Eco-volume and bio-surface interplay with the universal scaling laws both in biology and in the Mata Atlantica. Seminário A Cooperação Brasil-Alemanha no Programa mata Atlântica. Teresopolis, 29 November, 3 December 2004. KRUGMAN, P. (1996) The self-organizing economy. Oxford, UK:Blackwell. LORENZ; D.; MORRIS, D. (2005). How Much Energy Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Ethanol? Institute for Local-Self Reliance (ILSR). NEVES, M.; WAACK, R.; MARINO, M.(2003) Sistema agroindustrial da cana-de-açúcar: caracterização das transações entre organizações de insumos, produtores de cana e usinas. III Seminário de Administração. Anais. ODUM, H. (1996). Environmental accounting: Emergy and environmental decision making. NY: John Wiley. POHLAN, J. (2005); et al : Green Sugarcane versus Burned Sugarcane ­ results of six years in the Soconusco region of Chiapas, Mexico. SUGAR CANE INTERNATIONAL, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2005, VOL.23, No.1, 20-27. POHLAN, J.; et al (2004): Alternativas para el manejo sostenible del agroecosistema caña de azúcar en el Soconusco, Chiapas. CD Memorias Convención TROPICO 2004, Cuba. POHLAN, J.:(2002) Estrategias e innovaciones para un desarrollo sostenible de zonas rurales en el trópico. V Seminario Internacional de Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, Bucaramanga, Colombia, 472-483. POHLAN, J. et al (2000): Energy balances in the tropical fruit production of the Soconusco Region, Chiapas, Mexico. Acta, Number 531, 57-64. POHLAN, BORGMAN e LEYVA (1995) Bainoa - un ejemplo para programas regionales de la Agricultura Sostenible en Centro América Aachen: Shaker-Verlag, 39 S. SANTOS, M. (1997): Energy Analysis of Crops used for Producing Ethanol and CO2 Emissions. Proceedings of the third Biomass Conference of the Americas, Montreal,24. ­ 29. August 1997. TEIXEIRA, N. et al (1999) A industrialização do álcool brasileiro em usinas de pequena escala de produção; uma avaliação econômica. Energia: Fontes Alternativas, v.3, n.17, p.30-40. UNICA União da Agroindústria Canavieira de São Paulo (2006) ­ Informação ÚNICA Edição nº 68 - jan/ fev 2006, Sâo Paulo: Editora UNICA. UNICA União da Agroindústria Canavieira de São Paulo (2004) - Açúcar e álcool do Brasil Folheto Açúcar e álcool do Brasil - Commodities da Energia e do Meio Ambiente. Sâo Paulo: Editora UNICA



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