Gregory Bohlmann and Marcos A. Cesar. Process Economics Program, SRI Consulting, 4300 Bohannon Drive, Suite 200, Menlo Park, CA 94025
Commercial conversion of agricultural feedstocks into biofuels has experienced tremendous growth recently both in Brazil and North America. With oil and natural gas prices surging, agricultural feedstocks are becoming increasingly attractive not only for the production of fuels but also other chemicals. The term "biorefinery" has been coined to describe processing complexes that will use agricultural feedstocks to produce a wide range of chemicals, fuels, and bio-based materials. Initiatives are underway in Brazil to develop the necessary technology and infrastructure for commercialization of the concept. This paper presents a review of the Brazilian developments aimed at furthering sugarcane as a renewable feedstock for producing not only energy, but other products as well. Some of the important issues examined include: a) collection and use of agricultural residues and whole crop utilization, b) relative capital efficiency of a sugarcane biorefinery versus corn biorefinery, c) integration of ethanol and biodiesel production, and d) energy crop development.