Any manufacturing process would result in by-products. A by-product is one that is produced incidentally or is a secondary product. There are several by-products to each industry. While some can be further processed and used while others are harmful and disposed of post proper treatment. Sometimes the by-products also have several uses just like a normal product or resource. What it is used for depends on the economics behind it. The sugarcane industry is no exception to this.
Sugarcane is primarily processed to produce sugar, however, it results in three key by-products: bagasse, molasses and filter muds. Each one of these has several uses but what they are most commonly used on depends on what is most desirable in the economical sense.
Bagasse refers to the dry residue left after the juice is extracted from the Sugarcane. One of the key uses of bagasse is to produce electricity. When used to produce electricity it serves as a great renewable source of energy. It has been used in several countries in the sugar mill itself and is seen as a viable option. It is even stored and used to generate electricity throughout the year. However, storage poses a challenge. Different methods of storage are being tried and tested. Bagasse also serves as a good raw material for producing paper. It serves as an alternative to wood pulp. Bagasse is also used to produce particleboard which is also known as chipboard. Furfural is also produced, which is a flammable chemical substance. It can also produce methane gas. In addition to all this, it is also used as cattle feed. In places, efforts are being made to make packaging material out of bagasse.
Molasses is one of the most important by-products of sugar production from Sugarcane. In fact, the importance of the production of ethanol has taken the centre stage and there are discussions to divert the entire production of Sugarcane to produce Molasses so that it can be processed to produce ethanol. Ethanol is seen as a great fuel and is blended with petroleum. The percentage of ethanol in petrol is projected to increase in the coming years. Molasses refers to the effluent produced after the continuous crystallization process. It is the last syrup left after all the sucrose has been obtained. Molasses can also be used to produce acetic acid, yeast, ethanol and Rum.
- Filter mud:
Filter mud refers to the impurities which are removed through filtration of the juice. This forms cakes of mud and efforts are being made to identify the most rewarding usage of it. Currently, it is being used to produce fertilizer as it contains nitrogen. Refined wax can also be used as it contains fatty acids and lipids. It is also used as cattle feed.