First of its kind in Brazil, the agreement includes the construction of two plants that will produce hydrogen from ethanol and a fueling station for buses that circulate around the University of São Paulo (USP) campus, in São Paulo.

São Paulo, September 1st, 2022 – Shell Brazil, Raízen, Hytron, University of São Paulo (USP) and SENAI CETIQT signed a cooperation agreement for the construction of two plants to produce renewable hydrogen (H2) from ethanol. The partnership aims to validate the production technology through the construction of two plants designed to produce 5 kg/h of hydrogen and, later, the implementation of a plant 10 times larger (44.5 kg/h). In addition, the agreement includes a hydrogen refueling station (HRS) on the USP campus, in the city of São Paulo. The buses used by students and visitors to the campus will no longer use diesel and traditional internal combustion engines but rather hydrogen produced from ethanol and engines equipped with fuel cells. Scheduled to start operating in 2023, the initiative constitutes a low carbon solution for heavy transport, including trucks and buses, with the first hydrogen ethanol fueling station in Brazil and in the world.

Hydrogen will be produced from ethanol in an innovative way using biofuel supplied by Raízen and a technology developed and manufactured by Hytron, which currently belongs to the German Neuman & Esser Group (NEA Group), with support from SENAI CETIQT’s SENAI Institute for Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers, and Shell’s funding. “We are excited to see that a project that began as a dream of students within the university is now becoming a high-impact solution for the energy transition in Brazil and the world,” said Hytron’s CEO, Marcelo Veneroso.

Currently, hydrogen is predominantly used in the chemical industry and is produced from natural gas in industrial units close to refineries. In the future, H2 produced from renewable electricity, such as solar and wind, is expected to play a critical role in the decarbonization of several industrial and heavy transport segments. However, the transport of this product is complex, since it requires compression or liquefaction for storage in cylinders or trucks, making logistics more expensive. In light of that, the production of hydrogen through ethanol conversion constitutes an advance in the availability of renewable fuels through a new technological route for the expansion of sustainable solutions in Brazil and in the world. “This is a pioneering initiative for large-scale production of renewable hydrogen from ethanol,” summarized Julio Romano Meneghini, executive and scientific director of USP’s Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Innovation (RCGI).

“Local, decentralized, low-investment production of renewable hydrogen through ethanol reform is an interesting alternative for sectors such as heavy transport, in which the use of this solution, whose availability and scalability are essential, have a significant growth perspective. In addition to heavy transport, we are currently looking for partners who are interested in applying this technology for the decarbonization of other industries,” said Mateus Lopes, Raízen’s director of Energy Transition and Investments. Together with Shell, the company will be responsible for leading the development of the market of H2 from ethanol.

Through this agreement for the production of green hydrogen, the companies are entering a new phase in the production of renewable energy, contributing to the decarbonization of the economy and expanding their product portfolios. “This technology can be easily installed at conventional gas stations, without requiring changes in the distribution infrastructure, ensuring that hydrogen will be ready to fuel vehicles quickly and safely,” explained Alexandre Breda, Shell Brasil’s Low Carbon Energy Manager and Vice Executive Director of the RCGI. “The use of hydrogen is not restricted to the transport sector and will benefit other segments in Brazil, when it comes to replacing fossil energy sources,” he said. The project will be financed by Shell Brasil, through the ANP Research and Development clause, with an investment of approximately R$ 50 million.

Through the production of hydrogen from ethanol, the partner companies and institutions are entering a new phase in the production of renewable fuels, contributing to decarbonization not only of the transport sector, but also of the steel, mining and agribusiness segments. “Ethanol production in Brazil began in the 1950s and received important incentives between the 1980s and 2000s, when we reduced our dependence on gasoline,” said Marcos Buckeridge, a researcher at the RCGI considered an international authority on bioenergy. “Between 2000 and 2020, we started producing second-generation ethanol and entered a second phase. Now, we must take a new step in this success story.”

“USP will become a major research laboratory in the area of ​​renewable energy and sustainable development. This project will study the energy feasibility of obtaining hydrogen from ethanol and using it in buses, and the solutions found can be transferred to our cities. It has been fundamental for USP to partner with companies that value scientific research as a means of social transformation,” said Carlos Gilberto Carlotti Junior, dean of USP.


About Raízen

A global benchmark in bioenergy with an integrated business ecosystem: from the cultivation and processing of sugarcane in our bioenergy parks, to the sales, logistics and distribution of fuels, we continually invest in innovation to reshape the future of energy.

Through advanced technologies, we seek to play a leading role in the energy transition by expanding our portfolio of renewable energy sources, such as second-generation ethanol (2GE), biogas, bioelectricity and solar energy. By doing so, Raízen has already avoided the emission of 5.2 million tonnes of C02 per year (reference: 2020); by 2030, we aim to avoid twice this amount.

With a team of 40,000 employees, we operate 35 bioenergy parks with an installed sugarcane crushing capacity of up to 105 million tonnes. In the 2020-2021 crop year, they produced 2.5 billion liters of ethanol and 4.4 million tonnes of sugar. We have approximately 1.3 million hectares of agricultural areas that are cultivated with state-of-the-art technology and mechanized harvesting. Our installed power generation capacity is 1.3GW; in the last harvest we produced 2.1 TWh of electricity using sugarcane biomass.

Through a network of 7,300 gas station resellers bearing the Shell brand in Brazil and Argentina, we serve millions of consumers on their daily journeys, offering everything from the exclusive Shell V-Power family of fuels to convenience and benefits when paying with Shell Box. Through Grupo Nós (a joint venture with FEMSA Comercio), we operate in the convenience and proximity retail market with Shell Select stores and OXXO markets.

In the 2020-2021 crop year, we sold 29 billion liters of fuel and 7.3 million tonnes of sugar through our infrastructure that includes 69 airport supply bases, 70 distribution terminals located across the country and operations in 11 ports.

We are one of the largest companies in Brazil in terms of revenue (R$ 114.6 billion in the last crop year); we create jobs and income, drive the economy, and invest in social responsibility via the Raízen Foundation.

About Shell Brazil

With a history of 109 years in Brazil, Shell is an integrated energy company with participation in upstream, the new natural gas market, trading, research & development and the development of renewable energy. The company also has a commercialization business in the free market and environmental products, Shell Energy Brazil. Fuel distribution in the country is managed by the Raízen joint venture, which recently also acquired Shell Brazil’s lubricant business.

The company works to meet the growing demand for energy in an economically, environmentally and socially responsible way, evaluating trends and scenarios to respond to the challenges related to the future of energy.

About Hytron

Hytron is a Brazilian company of the NEA Group, recognized in the market for its technological expertise. It started its activities in 2003 as a spin-off from UNICAMP and since then has been working with innovation and development of commercial solutions involving the areas of energy and industrial gases for several national and multinational companies. Located in Sumaré (São Paulo, Brazil), Hytron is a pioneer in providing solutions for the production of hydrogen from solar, wind and biofuels sources.

About NEA Group

Founded in 1830, the German NEUMAN & ESSER group is a renowned manufacturer of reciprocating compressors for process gases and a leader in the supply of this type of equipment for hydrogen applications. In late 2020, the group acquired Hytron, with the goal of expanding its portfolio to provide complete solutions for the H2 market, including generation, purification, compression, storage and distribution for mobility. Its unit in Brazil, located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, has served South and Central America since 1997.

About USP – RCGI

The Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Innovation (RCGI) is an Engineering Research Center created in 2015 with funding from FAPESP and Shell. RCGI’s research is focused on innovations that can enable Brazil to achieve the commitments established in the Paris Agreement, within the scope of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). The research projects—19 in total—are anchored in five programs: NBS (Nature Based Solutions); CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization); BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage); GHG (Greenhouse Gases) and Advocacy. Currently, the center has approximately 400 researchers. Click here to learn more.

About SENAI CETIQT – SENAI Institute for Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers

SENAI is one of the five largest professional education complexes in the world and the largest in Latin America. It is a private, public-interest, non-profit entity, created in 1942 to support Brazilian industry through professional training and technical and technological services. With four units located in Rio de Janeiro, SENAI CETIQT is a technological driver for facing the current and future challenges of the chemical, textile and clothing industries. Its Institute for Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers (SII Biosynthetics and Fibers), created in 2016, is responsible for developing sustainable solutions through industrial chemistry and biotechnology, and fibers, from renewable and non-renewable resources, to offer new products and processes.

Since its creation, based on a concept of high integration with industry and academia, SII Biosynthetics and Fibers has had knowledge and infrastructure that allows it to serve various industrial segments. It works with the industry in the areas of technology mapping, technical and economic feasibility assessment, and the development of new products and processes, with a special focus on leveraging lignocellulosic components (extractives, cellulose and lignin), process intensification, industrial biotechnology, and others. It is well equipped to carry out experiments on biomass pyrolysis and adhesive formulation, as well as on waste characterization. The reactor complex is quite robust and includes batch and continuous reactors of different capacities. The SII Biosynthetics and Fibers also has a team of engineers specialized in technical-economic analysis and environmental assessment of processes, providing differentiated support to the industry regarding the assessment and definition of strategies for diversifying product portfolios under the concept of biorefineries. In addition, it has a competitive intelligence team specialized in identifying the market trends and technological perspectives of the industry.