CSIR, Godavari Sugar to set up India’s first sugar cane biorefinery

by Dave

livemint

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR, has teamed up with Karnataka-based The Godavari Sugar Mills Ltd, or GSML, to set up the country’s first biorefinery to convert crushed sugar cane into industrial raw materials such as cellulose and lignin.

Waste management: The biorefinery at GSML will be equipped to produce ethanol from bagasse, the fibre left after the juice has been squeezed out of sugar cane, though the technology is still at a preliminary stage.

The biorefinery at GSML will be equipped to produce ethanol from bagasse, the fibre left after the juice has been squeezed out of sugar cane, though the technology is still at a preliminary stage. Photograph: Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Cellulose and lignin are extensively used in the pharmaceutical, textile and food preservatives industries.

The biorefinery at GSML, part of the Somaiya Group, will be equipped to produce ethanol from bagasse, the fibre left over after the juice has been squeezed out of sugar cane, though the technology is still at a preliminary stage.

“We believe that once scaled up to commercial levels, there will be international interest in the cellulose we’re able to manufacture because the costs will be extremely competitive,” said Samir Somaiya, director, GSML.

Countries such as Brazil and the US have successfully tapped
commercial grade ethanol from sugar cane juice and maize, respectively.
But they involve utilizing the starchy, or food component of these
crops, to extract ethanol.

The private sector in the country,
too, is eyeing opportunities in bio-refineries and cellulosic ethanol
(ethanol from agricultural waste) market. Srinivas Kilambi, director at
Reliance Industries Ltd, had in a 2006 presentation at a renewable
energy conference, outlined plans for a corn-based biorefinery,
(modelled on the US approach for using maize waste).

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