Press Release

Brazil: Equinor and CNPEM in partnership for biofuel R&D

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, January 12, 2023

By Equinor

January 12, 2023

This is a machine translation of the press release originally published in Portuguese. 

A partnership between Equinor and the National Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM) will enable the start of research for the production of bio-hydrocarbons (or drop-in biofuels), such as green diesel and aviation biokerosene, the from agroforestry residues. The objective is to contribute to the refining of a low-carbon hydrocarbon, in line with Equinor's goals of reducing scope 1 emissions in the company's operations. The project is the pioneer of Equinor's Research and Development (R&D) portfolio in Brazil focused on the generation of low-carbon fuels, and will have a total investment by the company of around R$8.5 million, in addition to R$4.7 million from the Brazilian Company for Research and Industrial Innovation (Embrapii) and economic counterpart from the CNPEM Embrapii Biotechnology Unit.

For Equinor, advanced biofuels are an opportunity to reduce the company's emissions in the generation of transport fuels with low carbon content, meeting the premises of the Renewable Energy Directive. The company has the global ambition of being neutral in carbon emissions in 2050 and intends, in 2030, to dedicate half of its investments, until the period, to renewables and low carbon solutions.

“We are proud to announce Equinor's first project in Brazil in advanced and renewable biofuels. Through the partnership with CNPEM, we are taking an important step towards collaborating with the reduction of emissions in our operations, one of the focuses of our strategy globally. Research and development are fundamental for us to shape the future of energy and the academy is a fundamental part in this sense”, says Andrea Achôa, RD&I Manager at Equinor Brasil.

Through the R&D initiative, several activities will be carried out at CNPEM's National Biorenewables Laboratory (LNBR) to understand the molecular mechanisms for the decarboxylation of fatty acids and advance in their application for the microbial production of bio-hydrocarbons from sugars that will be obtained, in turn, through agroforestry residues – agricultural production systems in which perennial forest species are planted together with agricultural crops. The expectation is that, in the project's development phase, tests will be conducted in a pilot plant to scale up the production of renewable energy that will be used at the end of the energy company's operations.

The project will feature international collaboration between researchers from Brazil and the Equinor Research Center in Norway, in addition to the CNPEM molecular biotechnology team, with extensive experience and academic production in the area.

“This is a project aimed at developing disruptive and biologically-based technologies for the production of bioproducts from plant biomass”, highlights Leticia Zanphorlin, a researcher at CNPEM. “This is an innovative project focused on molecules that can directly impact the long-distance transport sector, such as aviation. We are excited to develop this challenging project in partnership with Equinor aiming at low carbon technologies and a more diversified energy matrix”, he concludes.

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