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Sustainable Gas Pathways for Brazil; from Microcosm to Macrocosm

Both in Brazil and globally, gas is at a crossroads. On one hand it is abundant, has an increasing share in global energy supply, is relatively clean-burning and is often an economically competitive fuel. On the other hand the gas supply chain and its combustion emit carbon dioxide and methane, which lead to global climate change. Alongside this, gas production, distribution and use have non-trivial life cycle interactions with natural capital and ecosystem services. This project will investigate opportunities via an interdisciplinary approach, encompassing process engineering, socio-economics, ecosystem impacts, and energy systems modelling: (1) Process engineering simulation and optimisation will be developed for sugarcane ethanol production, including investigation of how this process needs to be adapted in order to use the waste products (e.g. bagasse) to co-produce biogas and/or biomethane alongside the ethanol. (2) Investigation of the socio-economic implications of bio-methane from bio-ethanol bioproducts, drawing on the engineering process characterisation, in order to identify the ways in which it can contribute to livelihoods, growth, and other development objectives. (3) the ecological consequences of increased use of natural gas in Brazil will be considered. This will translate gas development scenarios into land use projections, and estimate the impact of the land use change on the carbon cycle, water quality and provisioning of drinking water to population centres. (4) The project will culminate in the production of self-consistent quantitative scenarios of gas development in Brazil to 2050. These will be produced via a qualitative narrative scenario development followed by application of a state-of-the-art energy transition simulation modelling to provide quantitative estimates of the role of gas in Brazil.

Agência de fomento: FAPESP, NERC