Here you can learn more about the history of GranBio and find information about the BioFlex® plant, GranBioTech®, among other areas of our work in the fields of industrial biotechnology, bioenergy, biochemistry and renewable materials.
GranBio was established in June 2011.
GranBio is controlled by the Gradin family, with 85% of the capital, and BNDESPar, the BNDES investment entity, as a minority shareholder, with the remaining 15%.
GranBio’s headquarters are in São Paulo and the company has operational units in Alagoas (Experimental Station, distribution center for raw materials and 2G ethanol biorefinery - Bioflex 1), and in Thomaston and Alpena, in the United States.
First- and second-generation ethanol have the same physicochemical composition. The difference lies in the raw material and in the production process. Traditional ethanol (1G) is produced from sugar cane juice or molasses. 2G ethanol is made from sugars extracted from the plant’s cellulose, present in straw and sugar cane bagasse, wood, sorghum, among others.
There are three critical steps to obtain the final product. In the pre-treatment step, the biomass is prepared so that cellulose and hemicellulose can be used as raw materials. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on the planet. In the next step, a reaction called hydrolysis occurs – cellulose and hemicellulose are broken down into simple sugar molecules with 5 and 6 carbons, through the action of enzymes. Finally, during the fermentation step, microorganisms turn these sugars into ethanol. This last step is very similar to the production of 1G ethanol.
Conventional sugar cane straw or bagasse or the biomass of Cana-Vertix®, a variety developed by GranBio based on the genetic cross between heirloom types and commercial sugar cane hybrids.
Because those are abundant raw materials in Brazil. They are, therefore, cheaper than other available sources of biomass. Additionally, sugar cane produces more residues than corn, which makes it even more advantageous for the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Every year, Brazil produces about 80 million tons of cane straw, which is equivalent to 210 million barrels of oil or 70 days of Petrobras production. It is an abundant source for the production of renewable energy. It helps reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the gases that causes the greenhouse effect.
Energy cane is a variety developed from the genetic cross between heirloom types and commercial sugar cane hybrids. The result is a more robust type of cane, with higher fiber content and productive potential. Since it is very rough, it can be planted in degraded pasture areas, without competing with food farming. It is a smart way to capture the sun’s energy through photosynthesis with less environmental impact. It is also a way to contribute to the fight against climate change.
Energy cane can be produced and processed in the same way as conventional cane. At GranBio, energy cane is called Cana-Vertix®.
The process to obtain energy cane involves classical genetic improvement. It is very similar to the improvement process of regular sugar cane. Two varieties of plants are chosen and the cross between them is made. The seeds that result from this cross are planted in the field. After sprouting, the most robust plants are selected.
The Experimental Station focuses on the development of Cana-Vertix® – and other sources of biomass for future industrial units of the company. The unit is located in the municipality of Barra de São Miguel, state of Alagoas, Brazil.