Journal of Sustainable Bioenergy Systems, 2013, 3, 260-264
Published Online December 2013 (
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Availability of Information about Sustainable Bioenergy
Technologies: The Agro-Energy Tree of Knowledge
José Gilberto Jardine1, Esdras Sundfeld2, Frederico Ozanan Machado Durães2
1Embrapa Informática Agropecuária, Computational Biology, Campinas, Brasil
2Embrapa Agroenergia, Brasília, Brasil
Received July 10, 2013; revised August 3, 2013; accepted September 2, 2013
Copyright © 2013 José Gilberto Jardine et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
In addition to the efforts undertaken by research institutions to generate new knowledge and technologies, it is also
necessary to promote the results of this research. Specifically, there is a need for an information system that aggregates,
organizes and systematizes information about agro-energy technology and makes it available on the Internet. Despite
the abundance of information circulating on the internet in Brazil, a specific method for sharing valid scientific and
technological information of pr actical interest, such as technical guidance and recommendations for processing various
materials and production technologies for various forms of agro-energy, has not yet been established. This article pre-
sents the Agro-energy Tree of Knowledge, a tool developed by Embrapa to enable web access to comprehensive infor-
mation about bioen ergy production systems app lied in different regions and conditio ns, in addition to texts, pu blication s,
statistical data about production and economic markets and information links related to agro-energy.
Keywords: Clean Energy; Ethanol; Biodiesel; Renewab le Energy
1. Introduction
The global energy matrix is still strongly biased towards
fossil carbon sources, with 80% of total energy use rely-
ing on fossil fuels, including 36% oil, 23% coal and 21%
gas. There are many studies demonstrating that fossil
fuels will continue to be depleted over the next four to
five decades, highlighting the need to seek alternative
sources of energ y [1]. Th e ong oing co nflict in the Middle
East, where approximately 80% of the world’ s known oil
reserves are located, causes instab ility in the supp ly of oil
and fluctuations in fossil fuel prices, forcing many coun -
tries to seek fuel alternatives that reduce their depend-
ence on oil imports [2,3]. The growing concern for the
environmental impacts of fossil fuel burning calls into
question the sustainability o f the current global p attern of
energy consumption. The Kyoto Protocol calls for the re-
duction of CO2 and other gases that cause global warm-
ing to levels 5.2% lower than those record ed in 1990, and
this goal is set to be achieved during the period from
2008-2012. From an environmental point of view, the
production of biofuels is an alternative to fossil fuel con-
sumption that reduces the emission of greenhouse gases,
helping to mitigate the effects of possible global warm-
ing. It is included in the Kyoto Protocol and is the only
currently existing mechanism for encouraging emission
reductions in the international arena. All of these factors,
which vary from country to country, are making new
sources of biomass energy more economically feasible.
Interest in the use of ethanol, biodiesel, charcoal, biogas
and energy from agricultural waste is increasing in many
countries, and there is no doubt that biofuels will o ccupy
a prominent position in the global economy in the near
future. Biofuels are only one segment of the bioenergy
industry, which also includes charcoal, biogas, firewood
and the cogeneration of electricity and heat from biomass
While bioenergy is very importan t, it is only o n e of the
many types of services and products derived from sus-
tainable agroecosystems and the world’s biodiversity,
which include native forests and nature reserves, planta-
tions, perennial crop fields, seasonal crops and pastures.
Cane sugar is the second largest source of renewable
energy in Brazil, accounting for 12.6% of the current
energy matrix when considering the ethanol fuels and the
cogeneration of electricity from bagasse [3]. Ethanol,
which is used in the chemical industry, in beverages and
as fuel, is the main type of bioenergy used in the world
For biodiesel, the major centers of production and
consumption are in the European Union (mainly Ger-
many, France and Italy). The EU provides subsidies to
encourage the planting of agricultural raw materials in
unexplored areas, which amount to a greater than 90%
exemption from taxes. About half of the production ca-
pacity for biodiesel in Europe is in Germany, which is
the largest producer of biodiesel and mainly uses raw
These countries have adopted laws that encourage the
use of biodiesel as an oxygenator in petroleum oil at a
proportion of 5%. I n Br azil, af ter year s of r esearch o n th e
production and use of biodiesel, this fuel has recently
ceased to be purely experimental. First, federal law does
not mandate the addition of biodiesel to diesel oil sold in
the country, but it does authorize fuel distributors to add
2% biofuel to each liter of diesel oil sold domestically.
However, prior to establishing an obligatory addition of
biodiesel, Law No. 11.097 (January 13, 2005) required
2% inclusion of biodiesel starting in 2008, increasing to
5% in 2013 [6,14].
Waste from agricultural production and agro-industry
can be converted into different forms of secondary en-
ergy, such as briquettes, biogas and bio-fertilizers. The
first cycle of biogas in Brazil lasted 80 years. Several dif-
ficulties, especially with the materials used in the di-
gesters at the time, led to the equipment to fall into dis-
use until the early 2000s. Brazil is particularly well-
suited for the production of energy from forest bio-mass
because of its humid tropical climate, available land,
abundant rural labor force, lack of job opportunities and
sufficiently advanced industrial and technological levels.
Sustainable management of reforestation projects can be
used to increase the productivity of future forests for en-
ergy. The overall objective of the tree of knowledge is to
organize information, knowledge and technology about
agro-energy generated by Embrapa and other public re-
search or educational institutions to improve the process
of technology tran sfer [8,9]. The purpose of the system is
to increase access to agro -energy information in real time
via the web for various segments of civil society and
improve the competitiveness of Brazilian agribusiness.
2. Methods
The Agro-Energy Tree of Knowledge
The methodology for the development of the agro tree of
knowledge was based on pre-existing methods recom-
mended for the development of a tree of knowledge
available at Embrapa Information Agency. This method-
ology is being implemented by an editorial team made up
of members from within the partner institutions and
in-cludes a technical editor, assistan t editors (two to three
researchers or technicians), agro-energy specialists, in-
formation professionals and computer and communica-
tions professional s [10,11].
The technical editor and assistant editors are responsi-
ble for designing and creating the structure for the tree of
knowledge, selecting the publications to include, defin-
ing the scope of the informational content, and process-
ing and publishing the content created by us. The editors
are also responsible for ensuring the quality of the con-
tent of the tree of k nowledg e, which is to be pub lish ed on
the official website of the Embrapa Information Agency.
The information professional is responsible for both
pre-cataloging and cataloging the information resources.
The IT professional is responsible for activities related to
the use and maintenance of software, as well as making
small adjustments to customize the details of computer
desktops if necessary. The communications professional
is responsible for ensuring the appropriateness of the lan-
guage of the web content and coordinating the work with
the Embrapa Information Agency.
The main steps of the methodological procedure em-
ployed in the project [10] are the following: 1) designing
the agro-energy tree of knowledge in Agro; 2) structuring
the tree of knowledge in Agro; 3) the selection, pre-list-
ing and cataloging of information resources; 4) drafting
and editing the informational content (allocated to the
nodes of the tree of knowledge) ; and 5) publicatio n of the
tree of knowledge on the official website of the Embrapa
Information Agency. Please see Figure 1 (Workflow of
the construction of the Agr o-e ner gy T ree of Kno wl ed ge) .
The design of the tree of knowledge requires that the
publishers have full control over Agro to ensure that the
items and sub-items (nodes and sub-nodes) line up sys-
tematically and hierarchically. For the handling and
preparation of the structure of the tree of knowledge, the
tools HiperEditor and Hypervisual [11-13] were used to
visualize the information in hyperbolic tree format ac-
cording to the needs and specifications of the Technical
For the development of content, the pre-cataloging and
cataloging of information resources and the publication
of the tree of knowledge, the content management system
of the Embrapa Information Agency was used. This sys-
tem has specific modules for each task, detailed by San-
tos et al. [10]. Each node of the tree of knowledge un-
folds into items and/or sub-items (also called as
sub-nodes), which contain basic information including
the title, author and text. At the end of each node, addi-
tional information resources (images, text, videos, audio
files, etc.) are included to supplement the information
provided in the node. The content was prepared in ac-
cordance with the recommendations of Guimarães Filho
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3. Results and Discussion
et al. [11]. The text in the nodes of the agro-energy tree
was compiled from information available at research
institutions. For this step, it was necessary to map the
areas and activities, as well as the products, technologies
and services, generated by these institutions. The pre-
cataloging and cataloging of information resources was
completed in accordance with specific recommenda-
tions for the descriptive analysis of the information con-
tained in the Catalog ing Handbook [13,15].
The tree of knowledge with its nodes and subnodes can
be seen in Figures 2-4, below. The main nodes (biodiesel,
ethanol, waste, forestry, environment, socioeconomics,
public policy, national level and PD & I events) are ar-
ranged on the first level of the tree’s hierarchical struc-
ture. They correspond to major issues related to agro-
energy and contain information about the raw materials
Figure 1. Workflow of the construction of the Agro-energy Tree of Knowledge. Source: adapted from Santos et al. [16].
Figure 2. Centered view of the Agro-energy Tree of Knowledge.
Figure 3. The Agro-energy Tree of Knowledge with the visual emphasis shifted to the biodiesel node.
Figure 4. The Agro-energy Tree of Knowledge with the visual emphasis shifted to the socioeconomics node.
and processes used to produce the various forms of bio-
energy, government policies, production costs, envi-
ronmental impacts and future prospects. Stemming from
these main nodes, the correspo nding sub-nodes are alig n-
ed systematically and hierarchically (Figure 1).
The construction of the agro-energy tree of knowledge
presented a component of cross-sharp performance. There-
fore, interaction with the corporate project manager at the
Embrapa Information Agency was important for recon-
ciling and integrating the tree content with the work of
other agencies and for avoiding the duplication of ef-
The structure of the tree resulted in a partnership
between Embrapa Informática Agropecuária, Embrapa
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Agro-energy and Embrapa Information Technology. The
text for the nodes of the tree was compiled from informa-
tion that was available from research institutions. Ini-
tially, the informatio n was supplied by the research units
of Embrapa for identifying new solutions, technologies
and projects in progress. However, it was very important
for Embrapa to form partnerships with other research
institutions, universities and private businesses to define
and formalize the appropriate legal instruments for the
use of information on agro-energy that is generated by
these external institutio ns.
4. Conclusion
It is predicted that the structure of the agro-energy tree of
knowledge will make it possible to organize, store and
make available the full range of information and tech-
nology generated by research institutions in Brazil in the
future. The agro-energy tree of knowledge will make the
most significant efforts undertaken by these institu- tions
known to the public. Another expected outcome is the
provision of technological information services with
value-added content that is updated and translated into
language and formats appropriate for developers and
other target audiences to run on the web. With the publi-
cation of the tree of knowledge in Agro on the official
website of the Embrapa Information Agency, the use of
this online tool is expected to improve the transfer of
agro-energy technology among farmers and development
agents. Such systems are essential to democratization and
the dissemination of knowledge. The Agro-energy Tree
of Knowledge can be accessed at:
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Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2003, pp. 235-
[2] BNDES, “Bioetanol de Cana-de-Açúcar: Energia para o
Desenvolvimento Sustentável,” BNDES, Rio de Janeiro,
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“Plano Nacional de Agroenergia: 2006-2011,” Brasília,
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Única, 2006.
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Diretor da Embrapa: 2008-2023,” Brasília, 2008.
[9] Embrapa Informática Agropecuária, “IV Plano Diretor da
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Embrapa Informação Tecnológica, Campinas, 2008.
[10] Embrapa Informática Agropecuária, “Agência de Infor-
mação Embrapa: Ambiente Web para Transferência de
Tecnologia,” Embrapa Informação Tecnológica, Campi-
nas, 2005.
[11] C. Guimarães Filho, D. Werneck, M. R. Carneiro, M. A.
Telles, R. C. Rosinha and R. V. Cobre, “Recomendações
báSicas para a Elaboração do Conteúdo das Árvores do
Conhecimento da Agência de Informação Embrapa. Bra-
sília,” Embrapa Informação Tecnológica, 2005.
[12] A. D. Santos, L. M. S. Cunha da, M. I. F. Souza and M. F.
Moura, “Gestor de Conteúdos da Agência de Informação
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[13] M. das D. R. Alves, M. I. F. Souza and A. D. Santos,
“Manual de Catalogação: Descrição de Recursos Ele-
trônicos, Versão 1.2,” Campinas: Embrapa Informática
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[14] Kleffmann Group, “Perfil Comportamental e Hábitos de
Mídia do Produtor Rural Brasileiro,” [Campinas]: ABMR
& A, 2005.
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