To develop Cana-Vertix®, GranBio’s energy cane, our scientists sought seeds in Brazilian and global germplasm banks. The first commercial sowing of the new variety is slated for 2015.
Energy cane was developed by genetically crossing commercial hybrids with ancestral types of sugarcane. The result is a cane that is more robust, with higher fiber content and productive potential, ideal for making second-generation biofuels and biochemicals.
One of its biggest advantages is that it can be planted in degraded pastureland – thus not competing with foods – and harvested at any time of year. And the potential is enormous: Brazil has 32 million hectares of degraded pastureland that can be used for energy cane, more than all of Europe’s arable land.
Its rusticity also affords other gains: the plant needs less water and other inputs to grow. All this, together with high productivity, currently make energy cane one of the most competitive raw materials.
GranBio chose Alagoas for developing CanaVertix® because the region has an ideal microclimate for hybridization and selection of varieties. Accordingly, since May of 2013 it has maintained a 60-hectare Experimental Station in the municipality of Barra de São Miguel, which focuses on developing energy cane, but also studies other sources of biomass for future industrial units.
The Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC) and the Rede Interuniversitária para o Desenvolvimento do Setor Sucroenergético (Ridesa) are partners in the project.