Perspectives for Biomass Production and Use in Brazil


  • Fernando Galembeck Universidade Estadual de Campinas


Biofuel, food, fossil fuel, land use, biomass, renewable energy, ethanol cellulosic, biodiesel, macaúba, crop productivity, sugarcane.


The use of biomass as a source of energy and raw materials shows an overall growing trend with ups and downs related to oil prices that are in turn heavily affected by political and strategic factors. Nevertheless, there are many signs of increasing use of renewable resources but at different rates, depending on the country and world region. A frequent objection to the growing use of biomass as a source of energy and raw materials is that this will compete with food production, contributing to increase food prices and thus decreasing the possibility to have adequate supply for a growing population across the world.

The Brazilian experience from the past four decades and the recent experience from Ethiopia show that synergy may be created in the multipurpose use of agricultural land. In Brazil, the energy push took place in parallel with a large increase in food supply and a relatively small increase in the used land, thanks to technological inputs in every front: soil conservation and improvement,  agricultural practice, logistics and industrial processing.

A side product of increased food production is the large increase in the production of biomass residues that leads to efforts for their utilization, contributing to CO2 sequestration from the atmosphere while increasing fuel and raw materials supplies.

Some specific cases will be presented on the opportunities offered by biomass,  together with two special features of materials from biomass that were understood only recently: the intrinsic nanocomposite features of natural rubber and the ever surprising richness of the properties of cellulose.

The conclusion is that the detection and development of opportunities for synergic production of food, energy and raw materials are essential features of the roadmap to sustainability.