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Episode 11 of 13

Why do Brazilian cars run on sugar?

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station description A history podcast for the future. Brought to you by teen changemakers who are looki... read more
UnTextbooked
Duration: 21:59
It’s no secret that society will eventually have to transition away from fossil fuels. Some governments and businesses think the answer is biofuels,like ethanol. Ethanol is a type of alcohol—the same type of alcohol that humans have been producing for millenia. And so, in much of the world, the te
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It’s no secret that society will eventually have to transition away from fossil fuels. Some governments and businesses think the answer is biofuels,like ethanol. Ethanol is a type of alcohol—the same type of alcohol that humans have been producing for millenia. And so, in much of the world, the techniques to produce ethanol are already known and exploited. All it takes is the fermentation of sugary crop, like potatoes, corn, or sugarcane. The result is a clear liquid fuel that can power engines, similar to gasoline. Brazil has long been the world’s leading producer of sugarcane. In the 1970’s, Brazil started switching more and more of its fuel supply over to ethanol. What started as an effort to combat the trade embargoes turned into a large-scale experiment on alternative fuels. But the story of Brazilian ethanol is complicated—It’s a worldwide industry predicated on exploitative labor and has significant environmental problems of its own. On this episode of UnTextbooked, producer Jessica Chiriboga interviews Jennifer Eaglin, about the history of Brazil’s ethanol industry. They discuss the conditions that primed Brazil to make the transition, and the lessons learned along the way.Book: Sweet Fuel: A Political and Environmental History of Brazilian Ethanol Guest: Jennifer Eaglin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental History and Sustainability at Ohio State UniversityProducer: Jessica ChiribogaMusic: Silas Bohen and Coleman HamiltonEditors: Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman
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