Eduardo Mallman

Ashoka Fellow
Porto Alegre, Brazil
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Eduardo Mallman was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Eduardo is facilitating the entry of smallholder families in Brazil’s booming green energy market by way of micro-biorefineries. He has developed a compact technology that produces social bio-ethanol through the use of sweet sorghum, sweet potatoes, and cassava, among other crops. Before introducing this technology and methodology to the market, there existed nearly no opportunities for small farmers to reap the benefits of this emerging economy since biorefineries are extremely expensive and have typically been designed to respond to the needs of a few large-scale producers.

Eduardo’s Usinas Sociais Inteligentes (USI—Intelligent Social Factories) occupy very little space (100 m¬¬¬¬2) and are much more affordable than other technologies. They have been designed to foment the economic development and energy independence of rural communities in an environmentally sustainable manner. The alcohol is not only produced with several ingredients that are generally thrown out, but its by-products are also transformed into food, animal feed or fertilizer in order to further reduce waste and increase economic outputs. In addition, Eduardo is combating the tendency toward monocultures by deliberately using crops that necessitate agronomic rotation.

Through the use of USIs, smallholders are now able to produce between 400 and 2,000 liters of renewable biofuel per day, at a cost of R$ 0.30/L (US$0.17/L)—where the average market cost for bioethanol in Brazil amounts to R$1.70/L (US$0.96/L). This quantity is sufficient to respond to the energy needs of a small farm and generate a small surplus. Eduardo’s vision is to facilitate the creation of groups of about 30 smallholders to increase their capacity to produce bio-ethanol at a marketable scale. Several micro-biofuel projects are already under way in the south of Brazil. The government of Rio Grande do Sul has purchased 120 micro-biorefineries to be used by 3,000 families, thus generating 12,000 new jobs. Eduardo is now looking to expand the model to Sergipe and other North-Eastern Brazilian states where there is a much larger number of low-income rural families and where the need is greater. Cognizant of the fact that USIs also have important and promising application for Africa and South Asia, Eduardo is establishing strong links with international organizations such as the World Bank and the European Commission.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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