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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://repositorio.ufba.br/ri/handle/ri/14763

Title: Química sem fronteiras: o desafio da energia
Other Titles: Química Nova
Authors: Rocha, Gisele Olímpio da
Andrade, Jailson Bittencourt de
Guarieiro, Aline Lefol Nani
Guarieiro, Lílian Lefol Nani
Ramos, Luiz Pereira
Keywords: Energy;Fossil fuels;Biofuels;Energy challenges
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: Coal, natural gas and petroleum-based liquid fuels are still the most widely used energy sources in modern society. The current scenario contrasts with the foreseen shortage of petroleum that was spread out in the beginning of the XXI century, when the concept of "energy security" emerged as an urgent agenda to ensure a good balance between energy supply and demand. Much beyond protecting refineries and oil ducts from terrorist attacks, these issues soon developed to a portfolio of measures related to process sustainability, involving at least three fundamental dimensions: (a) the need for technological breakthroughs to improve energy production worldwide; (b) the improvement of energy efficiency in all sectors of modern society; and (c) the increase of the social perception that education is a key-word towards a better use of our energy resources. Together with these technological, economic or social issues, "energy security" is also strongly influenced by environmental issues involving greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity in environmentally sensitive areas, pollution and poor solid waste management. For these and other reasons, the implementation of more sustainable practices in our currently available industrial facilities and the search for alternative energy sources that could partly replace the fossil fuels became a major priority throughout the world. Regarding fossil fuels, the main technological bottlenecks are related to the exploitation of less accessible petroleum resources such as those in the pre-salt layer, ranging from the proper characterization of these deep-water oil reservoirs, the development of lighter and more efficient equipment for both exploration and exploitation, the optimization of the drilling techniques, the achievement of further improvements in production yields and the establishment of specialized training programs for the technical staff. The production of natural gas from shale is also emerging in several countries but its production in large scale has several problems ranging from the unavoidable environmental impact of shale mining as well as to the bad consequences of its large scale exploitation in the past. The large scale use of coal has similar environmental problems, which are aggravated by difficulties in its proper characterization. Also, the mitigation of harmful gases and particulate matter that are released as a result of combustion is still depending on the development of new gas cleaning technologies including more efficient catalysts to improve its emission profile. On the other hand, biofuels are still struggling to fulfill their role in reducing our high dependence on fossil fuels. Fatty acid alkyl esters (biodiesel) from vegetable oils and ethanol from cane sucrose and corn starch are mature technologies whose market share is partially limited by the availability of their raw materials. For this reason, there has been a great effort to develop "second-generation" technologies to produce methanol, ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, biogas (methane), bio-oils, syngas and synthetic fuels from lower grade renewable feedstocks such as lignocellulosic materials whose consumption would not interfere with the rather sensitive issues of food security. Advanced fermentation processes are envisaged as "third generation" technologies and these are primarily linked to the use of algae feedstocks as well as other organisms that could produce biofuels or simply provide microbial biomass for the processes listed above. Due to the complexity and cost of their production chain, "third generation" technologies usually aim at high value added biofuels such as biojet fuel, biohydrogen and hydrocarbons with a fuel performance similar to diesel or gasoline, situations in which the use of genetically modified organisms is usually required. In general, the main challenges in this field could be summarized as follows: (a) the need for prospecting alternative sources of biomass that are not linked to the food chain; (b) the intensive use of green chemistry principles in our current industrial activities; (c) the development of mature technologies for the production of second and third generation biofuels; (d) the development of safe bioprocesses that are based on environmentally benign microorganisms; (e) the scale-up of potential technologies to a suitable demonstration scale; and (f) the full understanding of the technological and environmental implications of the food vs. fuel debate. On the basis of these, the main objective of this article is to stimulate the discussion and help the decision making regarding "energy security" issues and their challenges for modern society, in such a way to encourage the participation of the Brazilian Chemistry community in the design of a road map for a safer, sustainable and prosper future for our nation.
Description: p. 1540-1551
URI: http://repositorio.ufba.br/ri/handle/ri/14763
ISSN: 0100-4042
Appears in Collections:Artigos Publicados em Periódicos (Quimica)

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