Bagasse is a fibrous residue left after sugar crushing. The mills use this to produce electricity. However, it has high moisture content post crushing for which it is stored prior to further processing. These are usually stocked in piles at the mill level. However, unsustainable storage has detrimental effect on the health and environment.
About the organisation and why you are working on sustainability
Solidaridad Asia works with sugarcane farmers, millers, processors, agri input suppliers and other actors in the supply chain to build sustainable food systems. It works with mills in three states of India - Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh to disseminate best practices to farmers and encourages mills to adopt sustainable production.
Bagasse is a byproduct of the sugarcane industry which is the major source of fuel for the sugar mills. The mills use them at their site to generate heat and electricity. However, if bagasse is left to rot, it breaks down to release greenhouse gases particularly Methane which is 27 times more dangerous to ozone than Carbon dioxide. Also, the improper storage can sometimes lead to spontaneous combustion which affects health and property.
Description of the challenge
A small-scale sugar processing mill produces fuel from bagasse during the crushing season, but not during the off season. Thus, excess production of bagasse to meet the immediate power requirements during the crushing season becomes possible. But this excess bagasse is bulky, might decay to release methane or may be prone to combustion which affects the environment as well as health of mill workers. Typically, the bagasse contains high moisture after crushing for which it is necessary to store them for some time before using it as fuel. Therefore, storage of bagasse in its natural form is challenging.
Key sustainability issues
Storage of bagasse without compromising its qualities suitable for using as fuel (recovery of biomass)
Challenge is to store bagasse in some form for off season use
Though some methods of storing exits such as pelletizing or briquetting, the available technologies are energy intensive and expensive.
Therefore, there is a need to develop cost effective techniques that mills can adopt to store and use bagasse to produce electricity during off seasons also. Additionally, storage to ensure that it is less polluting to the environment.
For who and how it works
Finding solutions to this challenge will help the sugar mills to store excess bagasse. This will help them to produce electricity throughout the year. Additionally, it will help the research and scientific organisations to develop technologies which are cleaner alternative to energy from grid. Organisations like Solidaridad can help in disseminating these technologies as well as help in mainstreaming and scale up.
Possible Matches (Not limited to these)
- Open for R&D collaborations on “sustainable energy production” in sugar mills using bagasse. Small scale experimental production is encouraged at the mill level on,
- Less energy intensive pelletizing and briquetting techniques
- Bagasse storage technologies (equipment, or any technologies that convert it to some form)
- Methods for tracking loss of fuel value during storage.
- Formulations or technologies that decrease the rotting without comporting on the “fuel quality”.