Shell, Raízen, Hytron, USP and SENAI form partnership to convert ethanol into renewable hydrogen

Shell Brasil, Raízen, Hytron, Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and SENAI CETIQT signed a cooperation agreement for the development of plants for the production of renewable hydrogen (H2) from ethanol

The partnership focuses on validating the technology through the construction of two plants sized to produce 5kg/h of hydrogen and, later, the implementation of a plant 10 times larger, at 44.5kg/h. The agreement also includes a vehicular refueling station (HRS – Hydrogen Refueling Station) on the USP campus, in the city of São Paulo. One of the buses used by students and visitors to the University City will stop using diesel and traditional internal combustion engines to start using hydrogen produced from ethanol and engines equipped with fuel cells. With the start of operations scheduled for 2023, the initiative emerges as a low-carbon solution for heavy transport, including trucks and buses, with the first hydrogen ethanol station in Brazil and in the world.

Hydrogen from ethanol will be produced in an innovative way with the biofuel supplied by Raízen and the technology developed and manufactured by Hytron, which currently belongs to the German Neuman & Esser Group (NEA Group), with support from the SENAI Institute for Innovation in Biosynthetics. and Fibers from SENAI CETIQT, with financing from Shell Brasil.

“We are excited to see that a project that started as a dream of students within the university now becomes a high-impact solution for the energy transition of the country and the world”, points out Hytron CEO Marcelo Veneroso.

Currently, hydrogen is predominantly used in the chemical industry and is produced in industrial units near refineries from natural gas. In the future, there is an expectation that H2 produced from renewable electricity, such as solar and wind, will play an important role in the decarbonization of various industrial and heavy transport sectors. However, the transport of this product is complex, as it requires compression or liquefaction for storage in cylinders or trucks, making logistics more expensive. In this scenario, the production of hydrogen via ethanol conversion represents an advance in the availability of renewable fuels through a new technological route for the expansion of sustainable solutions in the country and in the world. “This initiative is a pioneer in the large-scale production of renewable hydrogen from ethanol” summarizes Julio Romano Meneghini, executive and scientific director of the Research Center for Greenhouse Gas Innovation (RCGI) at USP.

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

Through this agreement for the production of green hydrogen, the companies begin a new stage in the production of renewables, contributing to the decarbonization of the economy and expanding their product portfolios.

“The technology can be easily installed at conventional gas stations, which would not require changes to the distribution infrastructure, ensuring that hydrogen will be ready to fuel vehicles quickly and safely,” explains Alexandre Breda, Low Carbon Technology Manager. from Shell Brasil and deputy executive director of the RCGI. “The use of hydrogen is not restricted to the transport sector and will benefit other segments in the country, with regard to the substitution of fossil energy sources,” he says. The project will be financed by Shell Brasil, through the Research and Development clause of the ANP, with an investment of approximately R$50 million.

With the production of hydrogen from ethanol, partner companies and institutions begin a new stage in the production of renewable fuels, contributing to decarbonization not only in the transport sector, but also in steel, mining and agribusiness.

“The trajectory of ethanol in Brazil began in the 1950s, but it had a great incentive between the 1980s and 2000s, when we reduced our dependence on gasoline,” points out 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 start a new phase of this success story.”

“USP will become a major research laboratory in the area of renewable energies and sustainable development. In this project, we will study the energy feasibility of extracting hydrogen from ethanol and using it in circular 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”, points out Carlos Gilberto Carlotti Junior, dean of USP.


Shell Brazil, press release, 2022-09-02.


German Neuman & Esser Group (NEA Group)
Shell Group
Universidade de São Paulo (USP)