PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL — Brazilian biofuels company BSBIOS has signed an agreement to build the first large-scale ethanol plant in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, processing cereals, particularly wheat, to ramp up local production of the renewable fuel.

When complete in 2027, the US$102.5 million facility in Passo Fundo will produce ethanol and bran from the processing of cereals such as corn, wheat, triticale, rice and sorghum, among others. It will process 1,500 tonnes of cereals per day to annually produce 58.117 million gallons of ethanol (anhydrous or hydrated) and 155,000 tonnes of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) for animal feed. 

BSBIOS signed a Protocol of Intentions on June 20 with Rio Grande do Sul and will invest US$58.25 million in the first phase beginning in the second quarter of 2023 with production to start in the second half of 2024. Currently, Rio Grande do Sul imports 99% of its ethanol to meet demand, and the new plant will supply 23% of this need by 2027 when it reaches full capacity.

“Rio Grande do Sul is an ethanol importer state, and with this investment, we will expand our biofuel production capacity here in the south region, joining the Pro-Ethanol program,” said Erasmo Carlos Battistella, president of BSBIOS. “The initiative will represent an increase in the supply of bran for the animal protein production chains, in addition to promoting investment in genetic technology development for the production of wheat specific for ethanol production and being a viable income opportunity for farmers with the cultivation of winter cereals.”

The BSBIOS investment comes as part of the State Policy of Stimulus to Ethanol Production, which created the State Program for the Development of the Ethanol Production Chain (Pro-Ethanol) to encourage more production within the state, a region not well-suited for growing sugarcane for ethanol.

"Within the context of Pro-Ethanol, this initiative will make better use of the state's productive areas, increase liquidity for winter crops, strengthening our economy," said Giovani Faé, Head of Technology Transfer at Embrapa-Trigo (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), with whom BSBIOS has partnered for the production of new materials. "Today we already have in our portfolio wheat and triticale (winter cereal used in animal feed) with extremely interesting concentrations of starch for ethanol production. In addition, we will develop plans to stimulate the production of winter cereal as a viable alternative income."

BSBIOS also has partnered with Biotrigo Genética, a leading company in genetic improvement of wheat in Latin America. The company is working on the genetic development of two wheat cultivars with high levels of starch exclusively for ethanol production.

The plant will produce its own electricity with biomass cogeneration, and surplus energy will be made available to the municipal distribution network. There will be no discharge of liquid effluents, which will be used for steam production in the production process, the company said.