29 January 2024

Brazil has a significant capacity for biogas production from organic waste that has not yet been realised. Hanna Zanatta has studied social, economic and political aspects that affect the introduction of biogas systems in one of the world's largest countries.

Photo of PhD-student at her office.
Hanna Zanatta, PhD student.

In her licentiate thesis, Hanna Zanatta notes that Brazil has a large avalibility of organic residues, such as food waste, because of its large farms and large population. But still, that resource is not being used.

− Brazil is one of the largest economies in the global south. With the country's strong agricultural industry and large population, Brazil has a significant capacity for biogas production, says Hanna Zanatta.

The degradation of organic material, such as food waste and manure, in the absence of oxygen produces biogas. Microorganisms break down the organic materials in the absence of air, producing biogas. Biogas contains mostly methane among other gases and it can be used as a renewable energy source.

Photo of PhD-student at her office.Hanna Zanatta, PhD student. Despite the availability of substrates for biogas production and the many benefits that the spread of biogas systems can bring to Brazil's energy production, there is still a large implementation gap in the country.

Hanna Zanatta's licentiate thesis is based on case studies which in turn are based on quantitative and qualitative data from interviews and documentation:
Scientific articles, news articles, technical reports, research reports, official documents from government agencies and policies.

− The spread of biogas systems is about more than technical components. Analysing the technology is not enough to explain the spread of biogas systems in a community. The implementation of biogas system requires a variety of stakeholders, infrastructure, knowledge and formal and informal institutions, notes Hanna Zanatta.

Previous studies have examined the influence of societal contexts on technological diffusion, but these have dealt with countries in the northern hemisphere. However, social, economic and political aspects differ significantly between Global North countries and Global South countries.

Hanna Zanatta's studies aim to explain how societal contexts influence the diffusion of biogas technologies in Brazil. The thesis differentiates between different types of societal contexts with the distinction societal environments and socio-economic structures.

Societal environments refer to the circumstances and aspects surrounding the diffusion process where adaptation processes between new socio-technical systems and society occur in five environments, namely user, business, regulatory, cultural and trans-local environment.

Socio-economic structures refer to societal arrangements that shape social and economic aspects of society.

Societal contexts in Brazil appear to be more unstable and fragmented compared to counterparts in the Global North, which also affects the diffusion of biogas systems.

photo of female PhD-student.Hanna Zanatta.
− Brazil is a more hierarchical country than Sweden, for example. This affects how policies are made and can make it difficult to set up systems that are closely connected to local levels such as biogas systems. says Hanna Zanatta.

The thesis also highligts how social, political and economic aspects change even within the same country. And how these affect the types of configurations of biogas systems that are formed, and where they are formed.

− Future studies of the potential of biogas systems should consider contextual aspects beyond technology and substrate availability in order to comprehensively understand the diffusion of biogas systems in different countries, says Hanna Zanatta.


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Licentiate thesis: The diffusion of biogas systems in Brazil

Photo of a book, Hanna Zanatta´s lic dissertation. Linköping University, Department of Economic and Industrial Development, Industrial Environmental Technology. Linköping University, Faculty of Technology.

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1120-4175


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