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Amyris to supply São Paulo city buses with renewable diesel from sugarcane; manufacturers warranty use of 10% blends

Amyris Brasil S.A., a subsidiary of Amyris, Inc., will begin supplying an expected 160 city buses in the Brazilian city of São Paulo with Amyris renewable diesel—a pure hydrocarbon drop-in fuel derived from sugarcane (known locally as Diesel de Cana).

Starting in August, buses operated by the Viação Santa Brígida will run on a blend of 10% Amyris renewable diesel, with the balance made up of biodiesel and petroleum diesel supplied by Petrobrás Distribuidora. The supply contract runs through the end of 2012. The leading commercial vehicle manufacturers in Brazil, led by Mercedes-Benz, have issued warranties for the use of 10% Amyris renewable diesel blends in Brazil.

Following the successful launch of our first industrial scale production facility and the positive results of the fleet testing in Brazil, we are thrilled to be a commercial supplier of renewable fuel for buses in Brazil’s largest city. Over the next year, as we expand our fuel supply agreements with bus fleets in São Paulo, we expect to achieve $10-12 million in annual diesel sales. Brazil’s growing demand for low-sulfur diesel creates a significant opportunity to highlight the superior performance and benefits of our renewable diesel while allowing the country to reduce diesel fuel imports, which comprised nearly 20 percent of Brazil’s diesel needs in 2010.

—John Melo, CEO of Amyris

The city of São Paulo has more than 15,000 buses consuming about 450 million liters of diesel per year. Amyris’s sugarcane-based diesel will help meet the city’s target of reducing fossil fuel use in the public transit system. Under city law, São Paulo is working to reduce fossil diesel use by 10% every year through 2018.

Testing last year in conjunction with Amyris partners SPTrans, Mercedes-Benz, Petrobrás Distribuidora and Viação Santa Brígida showed that a 10% blend of Amyris diesel in Petrobrás’s already low-sulfur diesel (B5 S50) can lower opacity (smoke) up to 40%, said Paulo Diniz, president of Amyris Brasil S.A.

Amyris technology produces renewable farnesene (Biofene). Farnesene is an isoprenoid molecule that forms the basis for a wide range of products varying from specialty chemical applications to transportation fuels such as diesel. When used as a fuel precursor, farnesene can be hydrogenated to farnesane, which has a high cetane number (58). Amyris modifies farnesene to become Amyris renewable diesel. Amyris’s renewable diesel shows superior cold weather performance, high cetane and comparable energy density to petroleum diesel.

In 2009, the US EPA raised the registered blend level of Amyris’s renewable diesel with ultra low sulfur diesel from 20% to 35%. (Earlier post.)



Are there any hard data on cost and process efficiency ?

(How much of the energy is retained in the diesel from the original sugar?)


It seems like DME synthesized from the cane stalks would be a good choice. I can understand wanting a "drop in" replacement with little or no modification however.

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