BSBIOS to invest US$58.25 m in setting up wheat ethanol plant in Brazil

BRAZIL — Brazilian biofuels company BSBIOS is set to put up an initial investment of US$58.25 million to build the first large-scale ethanol plant in the state of Rio Grande do Sul processing wheat, which is poised to ramp up local production of the renewable fuel.

Sugar cane has been the traditional source of ethanol in Brazil, but when complete in 2027, BSBios’ facility will produce ethanol and bran from the processing of cereals such as corn, wheat, triticale, rice and sorghum, among others.

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The project will be developed in two phases. BSBIOS will invest US$58.25 million in the first phase beginning in the second quarter of 2023 with production to start in the second half of 2024.

The first phase is designed with an annual production capacity of 111 million litres of ethanol and the second stage will expand the capacity of the plant to 220 million litres by 2027.

Currently, Rio Grande do Sul imports 99% of its ethanol to meet demand, and the new plant will supply 23% of this need by 2027 when it reaches full capacity.

The BSBIOS investment comes as part of the State Policy of Stimulus to Ethanol Production, which created the State Program for the Development of the Ethanol Production Chain (Pro-Ethanol) to encourage more production within the state, a region not well-suited for growing sugarcane for ethanol.

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“Within the context of Pro-Ethanol, this initiative will make better use of the state’s productive areas, increase liquidity for winter crops, strengthening our economy,” said Giovani Faé, Head of Technology Transfer at Embrapa-Trigo (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), with whom BSBIOS has partnered for the production of new materials.

However, the decision has been criticized by some since valuable wheat, which could compensate for the shortfall in Europe’s supply, will be directed towards the production of fuel rather than food production.

The company’s CEO, Erasmo Battistella sought to ease concerns by speaking to the overall positive impact the facility will bring to the farming region in Rio Grande do Sul.

Battistella noted his factory will increase food supplies as it will also sell dried distillers’ grains, a by-product of ethanol production used as livestock feed.

 “The initiative will represent an increase in the supply of bran for the animal protein production chains, in addition to promoting investment in genetic technology development for the production of wheat specific for ethanol production and being a viable income opportunity for farmers with the cultivation of winter cereals,” he said.

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BSBIOS also has partnered with Biotrigo Genética, a leading company in genetic improvement of wheat in Latin America. The company is working on the genetic development of two wheat cultivars with high levels of starch exclusively for ethanol production.

The plant will produce its own electricity with biomass cogeneration, and surplus energy will be made available to the municipal distribution network.

The company said there will be no discharge of liquid effluents, which will instead be used for steam production in the production process.

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