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Alkol signs agreement with Universidad Politécnica for sugarcane in Spain
Madrid, February 2, 2014- Feedstock research company Alkol has signed an agreement for scientific research with UPM - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, for the development of a new hybrid of sugarcane for Spain.

Alkol already had an agreement with a Brazilian company specialized in the development of new varieties of sugarcane. This brazilian company was responsible for the creation of the "RB" varieties which today occupy over 60 % of all planted area in Brazil. What was missing was a local partner to conduct the project in Spain.

For that, Alkol thought of the School of Forestry - ETSI of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid because of its expertise and scientific prestige in Europe. The strategy will be then to use the experience of the Brazilian company with the scientific techniques available in the University in a collaborative environment. According to José Antonio Manzanera, Professor at UPM ETSIM, "As Professor of the School of Forestry, I wish to express my support for the Project for the Development of a new hybrid variety of sugar cane. I consider this center able to provide scientific knowledge and expertise in cross-pollination experiments in the classical method of plant breeding by crossing and selection"

According to Al Costa, CEO of Alkol , "We are pleased to have a leading center as is the UPM ETSI participating in our project. This project is different in Spain among all renewable energy projects as it requires no subsidies and that it will bring foreign expertise. Whether we like it or not, biofuels are the only alternative to existing materials and fossil fuels. This variety of sugarcane will be the main source of biomass in the European biofuels policy of 2020, and it takes the advantage that, in Europe, only in Spain sugarcane can grow" In fact, when one thinks of sugar cane, the first thing that comes to mind is a crop which only grows in tropical conditions. It is surprising to learn then it was actually grown for over 200 years in the south of Spain. However, over 80% of all the planted are used an obsolete variety: NC0310 from South Africa. That variety was not resistant to the mosaic virus and had very low yields, which made it unsuitable to compete in today's very competitive world markets of sugar and ethanol.

On the other hand, the business model employed was also obsolete, as the leftovers from the crushing process (the "bagasse") was just dumped. And it is that residue which is becoming today the main source of income after recent studies proved it is actually the best source for the so-called "cellulosic ethanol." This ethanol, which does not compete with food, is the big hope for biofuels in Europe. In fact, this kind of biofuel, also called "Second Generation", will according to the new European legislation be the only accepted in 2020, when the "First Generation" (the one which does compete with food) will only be allowed in 5% of the market. However, the problem was that all available biomass sources in Europe now are not the most appropriate due to their physical characteristics.

That is where this new sugarcane hybrid enters the scene, as it will have more fiber, be more resistant to the lack of water, and will offer yields of up to 200 tonnes per hectare (the currently used biomass options usually do not go over 40 tons per hectare). Moreover, its high fiber content will make it easier to remove the sugars necessary for producing cellulosic ethanol, and all that will mean a lower priced ethanol which does not depend on subsidies or import barriers to compete with Brazil's or USA's cheaper ones. The project seeks to develop as soon as possible new variety as to have it ready for the "generational blackout" scheduled for 2020, when Europe will force the use of this type of biomass.

About Alkol
Alkol Biotech is a leading feedstock research company with offices in Madrid and São Paulo. The company performs research on a variety of feedstocks in order to obtain better yields, more resistance to pests, and the ability to grow in marginal land. The end result is any biofuel based on that plant variety is more sustainable, has a lower price, and is thus more capable to compete with regular fossil fuels. The company's lead research is on a hybrid of sugarcane and native grasses which is able to grow in cold and dry climates and has more fiber, thus being ideal for cellulosic ethanol projects.

About UPM
The Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), is a public university founded in 1971 with headquarters in the City of Madrid. The School of Engineers of Madrid - ETSI issues since 1846 the degree of Forest Engineer and also teaches the Bachelor of Environmental Science, besides having masters and doctoral degrees in  various specialized courses. UPM has been considered as the best technical university in Spain in recent years in the annual ranking conducted by the newspaper El Mundo.