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Brazilian ethanol consultant, Alfred Szcwarc has said that Jamaica stood to benefit from improved air quality and job creation with the increased use of ethanol as an alternative energy source.
Mr. Szwarc, who was addressing a Petrojam-sponsored seminar entitled: ‘Ethanol in Gasolene’ today (April 27) at the Jamaica Conference Centre downtown Kingston, said that in addition to diversifying the country’s energy source, broader use of ethanol would impact positively on domestic production.
“This is something that is very much desirable in countries like ours, where we need to provide jobs for the rural population; not just jobs but income, savings and economic development,” he stated.
Turning to possible environmental and health benefits, the ethanol consultant said that these were important “especially in new urban areas and air quality does improve when ethanol is added to the energy matrix”.
He noted further that the use of ethanol as a renewable fuel “has been recommended by the United Nations expert panel as one of the strategies to be adopted for countries that want or need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions”.
The ethanol dehydration plant at Petrojam is being upgraded through partial funding from the Brazilian-based Coimex Trading Company, as part of initiatives to introduce the compound on a wider scale locally.
In December of last year, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, (now the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Science and Technology) Phillip Paulwell, mandated the state refinery in Kingston to conduct a pilot project to determine the performance of a cross section of motor vehicles with the ethanol blend.
At the time, Minister Paulwell said that the project, which is slated to begin next week and run for a three-month period, would assist the relevant authorities in “ascertaining the experience of the vehicles used in terms of efficiency when blended with ethanol, what might be necessary for the upgrades so that they [the vehicles] can properly accommodate this blend, and also to work with the various marketing companies to ensure that their premises are properly equipped to deal with ethanol as a blend”.
Also known as ethyl or grain alcohol, ethanol is a flammable, colourless chemical compound that is low in toxicity, and biodegradable. It is used widely in countries such as the United States and Brazil, as a replacement for gasolene.
Ethanol can be produced using field stock as cassava, potato, corn, sugar cane and other sources, through a process of fermentation.
The fermentation is a complex series of reactions that convert carbohydrates, mainly sugars and starches, into ethanol and carbon dioxide. It works best at temperatures in the range 25