Brazil’s Ethanol Trip Goes Wonky

The process whereby corn is turned into ethanol requires that the corn be converted first into sugar–and then into alcohol. Brazil, by nature of its massive sugarcane industry is able to skip the first step–one of the reasons that Brazilian ethanol is so cheap.

Oh, it’s not cheap? The government is reducing the amount of ethanol in the fuel mix to lower the price? What?

The reasoning this time is that ethanol has become so expensive recently that it is pushing up the price of ‘petrol’ at the pumps. By reducing the ethanol component, petrol should be a little cheaper. By freeing up ethanol supplies, it should also make pure ethanol cheaper.

Right. So why is Brazil now importing ethanol?

Outside of processing ethanol for medicinal purposes, perhaps Brazil (and the US) should come to the realization that using ethanol for the auto is not the path to the future, but rather a poorly marked and dangerous detour.