Brazil Navy Marks 30 Years in Antarctica With Clean Energy Program
By Dialogo January 23, 2012
Brazil’s Antarctic Program, Proantar, has just turned 30 — prompting Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim to fly down to the Navy’s remote Comandante Ferraz Station to celebrate.
That station marked its anniversary Jan. 10 by turning on an ethanol-based generator, making Brazil the first country ever to generate clean energy in Antarctica.
Joining Amorim at the celebration was Navy Commander Julio Soares de Moura Neto; Air Force Commander Juniti Saito; Brazil’s ambassador to Chile, Frederico Cezar de Araujo, and the president of Vale Soluções em Energia, James Pessoa.
“It is very difficult for a person to come here and not become emotional,” Amorim said upon his arrival to the remote naval station. “I’m even happier to see what I find in this place, because I played a role in this Brazilian Antarctic saga, as a representative of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Our presence contributes to the knowledge not only of Brazil but of the world.”
Since last November, Comandante Ferraz has been working to substitute ethanol for the production of electricity, in partnership with Brazilian companies Vale Soluções em Energia (VSE) and Petrobrás.
The ethanol generator’s capacity of 250 kilowatt-hours is enough to power 60 residences at peak time, said Thiago Martorani Moraes, electric engineer with VSE. “At the same time, it eliminates the emission of particulates and sulfur compounds, generating a cleaner energy.”
The achievement highlights Brazil’s technological progress and fits in with the United Nations’ designation of 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
The technology, which generates clean energy without any additives, was developed by VSE with financial backing from Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES). Petrobrás provided 350,000 liters of ethanol — the same fuel that’s used to power vehicles — and will monitor the biofuel’s efficiency in Antarctica’s extreme climate.
“The use of ethanol for the production of energy in Antarctica’s rigorous climate conditions opens a new field for this renewable fuel,” said Ricardo Castello Branco, director of Petrobrás Ethanol Biofuel. Total investment in the venture between Petrobrás, VSE and the Brazilian Navy comes to R2.5 million (about $1.4 million).
Proantar, established in January 1982, supports Brazil’s membership in the Antarctic Treaty and guarantees the country’s participation in the continent’s future.
“The success of Proantar has to do with a confluence of factors,” said Navy Commander Julio Soares de Moura Neto. “It is due to the active participation of the Navy, the Brazilian Air Force, the scientific community and other ministries involved in the program. We want to understand Antarctica and its influence on Brazil.”
Comandante Ferraz Station, operated by the Brazilian Navy, was constructed at Almirantado Bay, near King George Island, in the summer of 1984. By 1986, it was being used year-round. Protected by the Navy, the station can accommodate up to 58 people. It has laboratories devoted to biology, chemistry and atmospheric science.
So far, 2012 has been a busy year for Brazil’s research efforts in Antarctica. On Jan. 12, Brazilian scientists inaugurated Criosfera I, the continent’s first fully autonomous research and data-collecting module located just 310 miles from the South Pole. It’s also the first such laboratory to work 24 hours per day without human monitoring or use of fossil fuels, since it runs on solar panels and wind generators.
The climatic differences between Ferraz Station and the area where the new module will be located allow very distinct areas of study and research. At Ferraz, the temperature averages 27°F (-2.8°C), while the region of the Montes Thiel, where Criosfera 1 is now located, tends to register average temperatures of -31°F (-35°C).
Criosfera I’s initial transmissions of meteorological data, still in the testing phase, were sent via satellite the week before the inauguration ceremony to the National Institute of Spatial Research (INPE).
Accurate report with very relevant and informative information. Congratulations.