Repsol YPF to Make Biodiesel in Argentina

econ_sugar_02.jpgThe Spanish headquartered oil firm Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP) is planning to produce biodiesel in Argentina through the use of "advanced technology". Biodiesel is made through a chemical process in which the vegetable oil reacts with alcohol in the presence of a catalyzing agent. Glycerin, for which there are over 1,500 uses, is a valuable by-product of biodiesel synthesis. In this case, the glycerin would be from natural sources and potentially regarded as "organic".

econ_sugar_05.jpgApparently Brazil is also developing a program to produce biofuel for export. This TreeHugger is reminded of of a "BioMass Energy" conference in the early 1980's at which a Brazilian expert gave a complete history of that nation's sucessful and large scale ethanol production for transit fuel use. The slides shown of field laborers hand cutting sugar cane to "feed the beast" of sugar mills and then ethanol refineries put a chill in my spine as I suddenly realized that rainforest clearing and "low paid" labors of indigenous peoples were part of the equation. Ethanol has since fallen somewhat out of favor as a neat fuel in Brazil because modern engines don't handle it as well as the old VW Bugs that were widely ran on it once did. Biodiesel again puts ethanol back into the transit picture, as a process input, but this time for an export market as well. Let us hope that the labor and rainforest dimensions are being addressed.


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