José Tadeu Arantes | Agência FAPESP – A produção do etanol de segunda geração ou etanol celulósico, obtido a partir da palha e do bagaço da cana-de-açúcar, pode aumentar em até 50% a produção brasileira de álcool. Desnecessário enfatizar a importância econômica e ambiental dessa possibilidade, que transforma resíduo em recurso.

Para tanto, o país possui a melhor biomassa do planeta, a capacidade industrial instalada, a engenharia especializada e a levedura adequada. Só falta completar a composição do coquetel enzimático capaz de viabilizar o processo de sacarificação, por meio do qual os açúcares complexos (polissacarídeos) são despolimerizados e decompostos em açúcares simples. Compor uma plataforma microbiana industrial para a produção do conjunto de enzimas necessárias é o alvo de pesquisas avançadas na área.

Um importante resultado acaba de ser alcançado, com a descoberta, no lago Poraquê, na Amazônia, de microrganismos capazes de produzir uma enzima crítica para o êxito do empreendimento.

Isolada, caracterizada e produzida, a enzima mostrou-se compatível com duas fases essenciais da produção do etanol de segunda geração: a fermentação e a sacarificação. A realização simultânea dessas duas etapas oferece a perspectiva de uma grande redução de custos para a indústria sucroalcooleira, uma vez que as reações podem ocorrer em um único reator e há economia de reagentes.

O estudo mobilizou pesquisadores do Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNPEM), da Petrobras, da Universidade de São Paulo (USP) e da Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), e contou com apoio da FAPESP. Artigo assinado pela equipe de pesquisadores foi publicado na Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Proteins and Proteomics.

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The industry created more than 500 000 new jobs globally in 2017, with the total number of people employed in renewables (including large hydropower) surpassing 10 million for the first time.

Renewable Energy and Jobs, presents the status of employment, both by technology and in selected countries, over the past year. Jobs in the sector (including large hydropower) increased 5.3% in 2017, for a total of 10.3 million people employed worldwide, according to this fifth edition in the series.

China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Japan have remained the world’s biggest renewable energy employers, representing more than 70% of such jobs. While growing numbers of countries reap socio-economic benefits from renewables, the bulk of manufacturing still takes place in relatively few countries. Four-fifths of all renewable energy jobs in 2017 were in Asia, the report finds.

Among the various technologies based on renewables, the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry supports the most jobs. PV jobs increased almost 9% to reach 3.4 million around the world in 2017, reflecting the year’s record 94 gigawatts of PV installation.

Jobs in the global wind power industry contracted slightly to 1.15 million. Europe still accounts for five of the world’s top ten countries for installed wind power capacity.

Read More at IRENA

SAN FRANCISCO — We might be living through a new age of miracles. Last month, Los Angeles decided against adding lanes to a freeway, an unexpected move in a city that has mistakenly thought for years that more lanes mean fewer traffic jams.

Shortly before that, Germany’s highest court ruled that diesel cars could be banned from city centers to clean up the air. Mind you, Germany is the land where diesel technology was invented — and Volkswagen, the world’s largest automobile maker, invested heavily in pushing the cars before it was caught lying about their emissions. After the court ruling, Volkswagen sputtered that it was “unable to comprehend” the decision.

These events occurred nearly 6,000 miles apart, in different political contexts, but they are connected. Both the public and a few of our bolder political leaders are waking up to the reality that we simply cannot keep jamming more cars into our cities.

A century of experience has taught us the folly of it. Three pathologies emerge. First, every car becomes the enemy of every other. The car you hate most is the one that’s right in front of you not moving. As cars pile in, journey times and pollution rise.

Second, after a certain point, more cars make the city a less congenial place for strollers, bicyclists and people who take public transit to their destinations. The cars push out frolicking kids, quiet afternoons reading on a bench and sidewalk cafes. So we give up our public space, our neighbor-to-neighbor conversations and ultimately our personal mobility for the next car, and the next one.

And then there is the odd fact, counterintuitive as it is, that building more roads does not really cure congestion and can even make it worse. The problem, as experts realized starting in the 1930s, is that as soon as you build a highway or add lanes to a freeway, cars show up to fill the available capacity. The phenomenon is so well understood that it has a name: induced traffic demand.

Read more at NYTIMES