Daniel Zavalza
Director General
Perkin Elmer

Raising Awareness of the Needs of Biofuel Production

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 09:08

“We actively participate in the energy sector with PEMEX, CFE, and the Laguna Verde nuclear plant by providing them with instrumentation for industry development, while we also work on the development of biofuels plants,” says Daniel Zavalza, Director General of Perkin Elmer de Mexico. “To build a biofuel project, it is important to determine the source of biomass and the process needed to transform it into biofuel. The process has to undergo quality controls to ensure that the final product, being bioethanol, ethanol or biodiesel, meets high quality standards in order to ensure a return on the investment." 

Mexico is still taking the first steps toward fully developing its biofuels sector and, compared to countries like Colombia and Brazil, there is less support from the government for this industry. “Mexico is not taking advantage of biofuels even though many educational institutions, such as the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) or Oaxaca University, have biofuel projects. Several factors can affect the development of this industry,” says Zavalza. “The first among these is the price of fossil fuels, which should not be subsidized to further open the door to biofuels. Secondly, raising environmental awareness helps the biofuels market since it is an important tool to reduce greenhouse emissions. Finally, the biofuels industry can become an important source of jobs as it is a sector that is open to anyone that can grow crops and Mexico has enough land to make it possible. It is very important to carry out serious research to define the real advantages of biofuels from an economical and technical aspect by promoting R&D activities in universities,” argues Zavalza.

“We contribute with technological support, analytical instrumentation and optimal methodologies to ensure that high quality biofuel production is possible,” says Zavalza. Perkin Elmer can support a biofuel project with its large diversity of analysis instrumentation. Plasma spectrometers measure trace elements in the development of biofuels, gas chromatographs analyze methanol, and liquid chromatographs determine the fermentation of sugar. Furthermore, oxidation stability processes and determining the biofuel potential of products are needed to optimize the quality of biofuels.

The Mexican government carries out studies and research programs regarding bioenergy through INIFAP (National Institute for Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock) using Perkin Elmer’s equipment. “Our efforts to raise awareness about bioenergy have been focused on seminars and conferences, which we use to introduce interested parties to this energy source,” says Zavalza. “This varies from well- developed players in the biofuels markets to those that are just starting out, which gives us the possibility of sharing our expertise with the entire Mexican market,” he adds.

“Mexico has enough technology, equipment and human capital for the development of biofuels but it has to be actually put to use in the industrial sector,” says Zavalza. “Nevertheless, government support is essential for the development of the bioenergy sector in Mexico. In this sense, specific goals could promote the growth of this industry, such as including a certain amount of biofuels into Mexican gasoline without having to modify engines.”

“The process of producing biofuels is known in Mexico and the country could take advantage of having access to the best technologies and sharing them with industry and research centers. Information and awareness are the tools that are needed to create a stronger demand for biofuels and strengthen both the supply side and the value chain,” Zavalza adds.