By-Products of Sugar Industry
The energy crisis of 1973, when the Arabs imposed the embargo on Oil – had a trickledown effect on the consumption of other energy resources. Case in point will be, Brazil using ethanol from sugar to run its vehicles. The prices of sugar has been through its crests and troughs ever since. But the current forecast is that there will be a gradual increase in the prices of other sources of energy but those of sugar will be stagnant even in the best case scenario. If the by-products from the sugarcane industry undergo a technologically revolution and are placed in the market appropriately, they could be the answer to the current woes.
The four main by products from the Sugar Industry are – Cane Tops, Bagasse, Filter Muds and Molasses. In order to upgrade their value, there needs to be – focused Research and Development propagated by both the public and private sector. Sophisticated use of technology coupled with the right marketing of the products will be able to efficiently communicate the currently found 150 uses of these four by-products.
Below is the detailed analysis of each of the products:
- Bagasse: It is the fibrous residue of the cane stalk, left behind after the cane has been crushed and all the juice has been extracted. It consists of fibres, water and relatively small quantities of soluble solids – mostly sugar.
Electricity – This is used for the generation of steam and power, that is used to feed the power needs of the sugar industry. It is also an effective and easy utilisation of bagasse for the cane-producing Third World countries like India. With the help of high pressure boiler and condensing turbo alternator – electricity is produced. In order to maintain the economic ends this is done during the intercrop period.
Particle Board – Bagasse along with plywood and fibreboard can be used to produce particle boards. The high importing costs of synthetic resins used in fibres are a major detriment for this product. Due to the thickness of 15 mm, particle board is only used for the inner partitions and furniture. Therefore they have a very focused market.
Paper – The production of paper from bagasse is not a main use for the Third World countries, due to the absence of favourable local conditions. The demanding technology is a heavy cost factor here. Wrapping and magazine papers can be produced by bagasse. The recent advancement in technology has helped in creating a decent market for paper being produced from bagasse. The cost of production has relatively gone down
Furfural – Furfural is a inflammable, colourless, volatile and aromatic liquid. The ratio for production is 25:1. That is 25 tonnes of bagasse will produce 1 tonne of furfural. Furfural is an industrial agent. Two of its most important usages are – selective solvent for the refining of lubricating oils and as one of the components for the production of Nylon 6.6
Methane – Methane is also known as biogas and is an extremely economic and gaseous by-product of bagasse. The anaerobic fermentation of cellulosic materials gives rise to methane. Biogas has the calorific value of 22,000 KJ per kg.
- Filter Muds: After the cane juice filtered the precipitated impurities form a moist cake known as filter muds. This by-product contains phosphate and nitrogen and is therefore used as an important fertilizer.
Other uses of filter muds are –
1.Refined Wax – Filter Mud contains a mixture of waxy and fatty lipids in the ration 5:2. This can be used to extract refined wax.
2.Animal Fodder – This is an otherwise cash intensive use. Post certain drying processes Filter muds are used in animal feed.
- Molasses: Molasses is the final product obtained by the repeated crystallisation of sugar. It is the residual syrup. Crystalline sucrose cannot be obtained from it.
Molasses is an important export product in the international market. Countries like USA, Japan, Netherlands and UK use molasses as animal fodder. Below is a list of other products that can be manufactured from Molasses:
Rum – Rum has a unique taste and aroma. It is the alcoholic product that is made from molasses. It is a distillate that is derived upon selective ethylic fermentation of cane juice or molasses. The selling price of a product increases drastically from the producer of the product to the retailer who unleashes it into the market. Rum production is the most profitable in the by-products industry of sugar cane. If the producer is bottles the product and functions as a wholesaler – he can acquire huge profits. Rum also is a source of revenue generation for the government through excise duty.
Other important chemical products are – Ethyl Alcohol, Acetic Acid, Butanol-Acetone, Citric Acid, Yeast and Industrial alcohol as cooking fuel.
- Cane Tops : Cane tops do not have high value in the market. But they can be used as animal fodder.