Acelen, Embrapa to study Macauba potential to produce SAF/HVO

Macauba fruit can be refined to oil and converted into SAF.

A macauba tree ready for harvest.

Brazilian energy transformation company Acelen Renewables has partnered with state-owned Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) to setup technological development project for the macauba palm species to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), green diesel (HVO) and other co-products.

The five-year project is supported by Acelen Renewables and Embrapa Agroenergia with investments of R$13.7m ($2.4m) with financial backing from Embrapii and BNDES.

The project will benefit from scientific contribution of Embrapa Algodão, Embrapa Florestas, Embrapa Meio Norte, and Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia research centres.

The project’s aim is to domesticate macauba with subsequent implementation of commercial plantations and the optimal use of its fruits (shell, pulp, endocarp, and kernel) through more effective processes for extracting high-quality oils and generating bioproducts.

Macauba, with high energy density and great capacity for carbon sequestration, can reduce 60m tons of CO2 from atmosphere per annum.

Alexandre Alonso, head of Embrapa Agroenergia, said the initiative is important as the demand for advanced biofuels will grow exponentially in the coming years with increasing pressures for decarbonisation.

Alonso said that the country has the opportunity to become a global producer and supplier of SAF and HVO. “For this, investments in R&D are necessary, both in raw materials (such as macauba) and in new bioprocesses, as well as modeling,” he added.