Brazil leads the world in green transportation.  While North America mixes 10% ethanol (made from corn) into its gasoline, Brazil mixes ethanol made from sugarcane.

Almost half of its vehicles have flexible fuel engines optimized to run on 100 percent ethanol or any mix of gasoline. Every service station in the country sells domestic ethanol side-by-side with other fuels, and regular gasoline includes 25 percent ethanol.   About 95% of new vehicles have flexible fuel engines and by 2020 over 85% of all vehicles on the road will be flex.  The country’s ethanol consumption surpassed that of gasoline in 2008.

Corn, the main source of ethanol in Canada and the United States, stores sugar only in its kernels. Sugarcane uses the entire stalk, allowing growers to produce high yields of sugar in a limited space.  As a result, Brazilian sugarcane produces 900 gallons of ethanol per acre versus 400 gallons for corn.

Brazil also produces electricity from sugarcane, the second largest source after hydro.  As a result, the country has options when oil prices surge (as in 2009 and 2011) or when sugar prices fluctuate.

The irony is that just when Brazil was starting to build an economy not dependent on oil, its state oil company, Petrobras, discovered massive reserves of oil 3 miles deep in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast.  In 10 years Brazil could be a major oil producer and exporter.

For more on Brazil’s green transportation fuel read here. (Brazil’s Biofuels Revolution: Sweet Versatility)

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