As a pioneer in second generation ethanol, or cellulosic ethanol, production technology, Raízen is committed to developing the energy of the future, using renewable and more sustainable sources. The biofuel is generated from the by-products of sugarcane (bagasse and straw) used in the traditional process of manufacturing ethanol and sugar. Therefore we are able to increase our annual ethanol production, without needing to expand the area of cultivation.
In November 2014, we started the operation of our first industrial plant to manufacture biofuel on a commercial scale. Completed in record time, the plant located in Piracicaba (SP) has the installed capacity to produce 42 million liters of ethanol.
Second generation technology has been developed and improved over many years of study and planning. The total investment to develop the plant was R $ 250 million, of which R $ 207.7 million was financed by BNDES. Today, this innovation represents the key to making ethanol even more competitive and meeting the growing demand for biofuels in Brazil and the world.
Benefits of second generation ethanol:
Use of sugarcane and its by-products;
Use of raw materials already available in the units, presenting a logistical advantage;
Increased ethanol manufacture by up to 50% without expanding the area of cultivation;
Production of biofuel even during the off-season for sugarcane;
Reduction of carbon emissions during production, creating a cleaner fuel.
Technology and reuse
Raízen, in partnership with the Iogen Corporation, is one of the shareholders of Iogen Energy, which developed the technology for processing of biomass for the production of cellulosic ethanol. With the second generation technology, the by-products from the conventional manufacture of ethanol and sugar, which are already in part directed for the cogeneration of energy, become the raw material for this new generation of biofuel. During the production of cellulosic ethanol the residues pass through a pre-treatment in which the fibers are broken down and then transformed into soluble sugars by means of a process called “enzymatic hydrolysis”. In this stage, we use a specific enzyme technology for the production of second generation ethanol, developed by the Danish company Novozymes.
In the next step, fermentation converts the sugar to ethanol, which is purified through distillation and then sent to market. The composition of the final product is identical to first generation ethanol, differing only by the raw material used in the production process.
Until 2024, Raízen plans to build seven more cellulosic ethanol production plants, in addition to the first one inaugurated in Piracicaba. The expectation is that these units, by being located close to the first generation production plants, operate at maximum capacity and produce a billion liters of ethanol a year.
To find out more about how Raízen invests to increase the efficiency of its production processes and operations, take a look at our Sustainability Report.
The second generation technology allows the production of ethanol during the sugarcane off-season
The composition of cellulosic ethanol is identical to that of first generation ethanol
The cellulosic ethanol units can expand our production by up to 50%
We have invested R$ 237 million in our first second generation ethanol production plant