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General Electric To Invest BRL500 Million In Brazil Technology Center

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- General Electric (GE) said Thursday it will invest 500 million reais ($245.5 million) in a research and development center in Rio de Janeiro. The center, which should be operational in the second half of 2013 and employ 400, will focus on development of biofuels, alternative-energy systems, intelligent systems and systems integration, said Ken Herd, GE's global research center head in Brazil at a ceremony to mark the laying of the center's foundation stone. Mark Little, a GE vice president, said the center also will develop subsea technologies together with clients including Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR, PETR4.BR), Statoil ASA (STO, STL.OS) and OGX (OGXPY, OGXP3.BR). "We will try to understand the specific needs of these companies," Little said. "Presalt is a major challenge for the Brazilian oil industry." In the areas of biofuels, the center will work on production and use of biodiesel in locomotives and biokerosene for aircraft, he said. The center also will study how to break down bagasse, which is used in ethanol production, to reuse its water content and produce more energy that can be sold to the grid, Little said. GE already has signed accords with Petrobras, Vale (VALE, VALE5.BR), OGX and Embraer (ERJ, EMBR3.BR) for the development of projects of interest to those companies, the executive said. -By Diana Kinch, Dow Jones Newswires; 55 21 7564 4495;

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