GE, Petrobras using sugarcane based ethanol to generate electricity

Rio de Janeiro, January 19, 2010 — GE and Brazil’s federal energy company, Petrobras, are using sugarcane-based ethanol in a gas turbine system to produce electricity on a full commercial scale.

The Juiz de Fora Power Plant is a simple-cycle, natural gas plant with a capacity of 87 MW, located about 110 miles north of Rio de Janeiro.

Ethanol derived from sugarcane in Brazil is one of the most efficient biofuels in terms of energy balance and carbon emissions. The benefits of this biomass fuel are substantial: it is a renewable energy source and its combustion reduces atmospheric emissions.

The plant has two GE LM6000 gas turbines, one of whose combustors has been modified by GE to enable the use of ethanol, making it dual-fuel (ethanol and natural gas).

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This enhances the plant’s energy security and reliability by providing a valuable alternative fuel source for the power plant that previously had only one available fuel.

As the world’s second largest producer of ethanol and the world’s largest exporter, Brazil will benefit from incorporating ethanol into its thermal generation profile because of the abundant fuel supply.

The country’s 35-year, large-scale experience in ethanol use is based on efficient agricultural technology for sugarcane cultivation, producing about 7.3 billion gallons in 2008, according to data provided by the Federal Government.

Flexibility is a key characteristic of GE’s aeroderivative product portfolio. To better support a rising need for reduced environmental impact and improved plant economics, GE’s aeroderivative team is focused on developing alternative fuel solutions that will further augment the portfolio’s existing performance flexibility.

There will be five months of demonstration runs to validate the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel, as well as to ensure that emissions are within the expected limits. GE is providing the conversion technology, engineering and field support during conversion and commissioning.

 

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