UNICA creates 'virtual mill' tour

By Luke Geiver | June 10, 2010
Posted July 2, 2010

For those unable to make the trip to Brazil, UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, is now helping out. Since 2007, UNICA has hosted over 160 visiting groups but only 40 or 50 could make the three to four hour drive to a mill after arrival in a major city. After releasing their "Virtual Mill" tours, the trip to an ethanol mill is just a few clicks away. "The virtual mill was designed to make sure everyone has a good look at how things work," said UNICA's corporate communications director, Adhemar Altieri, in a statement on the virtual tour.

The nine short videos explain each step of the process used in the Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol plants. Starting with sugarcane planting, the tour then shows harvest methods, arrival, crushing processes, sugar production, ethanol production, ethanol storage and distribution, an explanation on bioelectricity use and finally, daily work life associated with the industry. "The mill allows the user to view the phases in any order, but we're finding that most people simply push phase one and watch all nine phases in order," said Altieri.

Shown in the videos are clips of large tractors harvesting cane, lab technicians wearing white coats testing for sugar content and even brief glimpses at the actual fermentation and production processes. Harvested in late summer/early fall, the sugarcane needs to reach the plants within 24 hours or as soon as possible, according to the video. The ethanol video begins with a description of the juice taken from the cane, followed by the production process from start to finish, showing both hydrous and anhydrous ethanol production methods. The video notes that the process takes roughly 15 hours to complete.

The idea for the video was conceived by UNICA and produced by a Sao Paulo communications group, TV1 Video and Communications Group, with support from Apex-Brasil, the Brazilian federal government's Export and Investment Promotion Agency.

To view the video: http://english.unica.com.br/virtual-mill/