The first industrial plant in the world capable of getting biofuels from seaweed should be built in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco towards the end of next year. according to a Brazilian official in charge of the project.
The factory to be set up by Austrian firm SAT (Sea Algae Technology) on a sugar cane plantation that yields ethanol will produce 1.2 million liters of algae-based biofuels annually, Rafael Bianchini, head of SAT Brazilian subsidiary said.
The US$ 9.8 million-dollar facility will make use of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in the ethanol production to speed up the photosynthesis process in the seaweeds and thus reduce emissions of polluting gases into the environment, he said.
Bianchini said the goal was to "convert the CO2 from a passive to an active" state, making use of the strong CO2 emissions lost in the sugar cane ethanol production.
"For each ethanol liter produced, one kilogram of CO2 is released in the atmosphere. We are going to take this CO2 to feed our plant," he added.
Initially, the algae-based biofuel facility will use five percent of the emissions from the sugar cane ethanol process but later the proportion will be increased, Bianchini said.
According to SAT's Brazilian partner Carlos Beltrão from the Group JB, the one hectare test farm will be implanted with GM algae in the second half of 2013. A second similar plant is planned at the state of Espírito Santo, in Brazil's Southeast.
A hectare of algae is estimated to consume 5.000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The project has yet to be approved by Brazil's National Petroleum Agency. Brazil is the world's second largest producer of biofuels after the United States.
Argentina's president Cristina Fernández announced on Thursday the development of a mining project between Neuquén, Mendoza and Río Negro provinces which will led by Brazilian company Vale, and is expected to become the largest potassium mining site in the world.
"I like that fact that this project will be developed with Brazil," added Cristina Fernández arguing that "the agreement will thus restore our trade balance with Brazil."
The project involves extracting and processing 4.3 million tons of potassium annually, with an investment of US$ 5.9 billion, turning Argentina into the world's third exporter and fifth producer.
Vale Doce together with Petrobras are Brazil's leading international corporations and is ranked with Anglo-Australian with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton as the three major mining enterprises in the world.
The president said the magnitude of the project is a big confidence plus for Argentina and will a great boost for Argentina and Brazilian agriculture since potassium is one of three basic nutrients for agriculture (together with nitrogen and phosphorus).
The project is in Malargue some 200 kilometers from the city of Mendoza and includes production, processing and distribution of potassium chloride "and will have us among the five leading countries in the world".
"We do not have phosphorus and are forced to import it from Morocco, as does Brazil, but I'm sure that if we keep looking, with such a huge territory, we are bound to find phosphorus," said Cristina Fernandez.
Argentine government sources added that the deposits are expected to keep production for 40 years creating 16.750 jobs. The project will demand 870 kilometers of railway lines, (550 km to be repaired and 370 km new).
By 2014 the railway should be transporting 2.4 million tons of potassium chloride and will have its own loading harbor at Ingeniero White, next to Bahía Blanca in Buenos Aires province.
The president also called for South American countries to make joint efforts to become a breakout region in the century we are living in.
"I want to highlight the strategic need we have in South America to join efforts to become a major leading region in the 21st century," she emphasized.