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[RIO DE JANEIRO] Brazil and China have agreed to collaborate on developing technologies to tackle energy problems and climate change.

The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (UFRJ), and the University of Tsinghua, China, have announced the creation of the Brazil–China Center for Innovative Technologies, Climate Change and Energy (14 January).

The centre, to be based at the University of Tsinghua, in Beijing, will receive almost  US$1 million in initial investment from the Brazilian innovation agency, Research and Projects Financing (FINEP). The Brazilian part of the centre will be headed by the Graduate Engineering Project Coordination (COPPE) of the UFRJ.

Segen Estefan, chair of technology and innovation for COPPE said that the seeds of cooperation were sown when Chinese scientists visited his institution in Brazil and witnessed projects in fields such as biofuels, prospecting for oil in deep waters, and clean energy sources, all of which overlapped with Chinese interests.

One of the centre's first goals will be to map biofuel sources in Brazil and China to develop common approaches to their exploitation. Another will be to estimate greenhouse gas emissions by both countries and provide their respective governments with technical information to help them develop mitigation policies.

"We expect to multiply the number of projects and the funding as the centre begins to operate," said Estefan. "The physical infrastructure will be ready by the middle of the year and then we can increase activities and the exchange of researchers." He anticipates exchanges of PhD and post-doctoral students between the two countries.

The projects will aim to produce practical results for Brazilian and Chinese industries as well as yielding high quality information on science and technology for governments.

"Both countries are considering this not only a cooperation between two universities, but a collaboration between Chinese and Brazilian governments," added Estefan.