Sweden-based industrial measurement technology developers Mantex AB has announced that it has launched a collaboration with American Biocarbon LLC., to evaluate its Biofuel Analyzer for measuring ash content in bagasse, one of the world's most abundant residual biomass feedstock sources.
Bagasse is a fibrous residual product from sugarcane-based sugar and ethanol production. At the mill, the harvested sugarcane stems are cut into billets and crushed to extract the cane juice before further processing into sugar or ethanol. The bagasse is the residual fibre product from this crushing process and accounts for about 30 percent of the sugarcane by weight.
According to the International Sugar Organisation (ISO), around 130 countries worldwide use sugarcane and/or sugar beet as feedstock for sugar production of which sugarcane dominates accounting for about 80 percent of all sugar produced.
In 2016, the global sugarcane production amounted to 1.89 billion tonnes, almost four times more than in 1965. This, in turn, generated about 567 million tonnes of bagasse in 2016.
Although a share of the bagasse is used as fuel by sugar- and ethanol plants for their own energy needs much ends up as a residue. American Biocarbon is a US-based renewable energy company that has developed a proprietary Biomass Separation Unit (BSU) – a pneumatic mechanical separation technology to remove residual biomass and debris from sugarcane billets prior to entering sugarcane mill.
According to American Biocarbon, this pre-processing step provides the sugar mill with cleaner sugarcane billets. It also provides a better option to sugarcane growers by reducing the need for field burning of sugarcane thrash – the leaves and tips from harvesting – as this can be separated by the BSU at the mill.
In partnership with biomass dryer and torrefaction technology specialist TSI Inc., the company has also developed a replicable technology and process concept for sugarcane-based sugar and ethanol mills whereby the material separated by the BSU and/or excess bagasse is used to produce a torrefied pellet fuel to be used as a direct substitute for coal in coal-fired energy utilities.
Currently under development, American Biocarbon’s first commercial facility is co-located and being integrated at the Cora Texas Sugar Mill in White Castle, Louisiana (LA) where the company has secured a long-term supply of annually renewable biomass feedstock in partnership with the sugar mill and their growers. The 200 000 tonne-per-annum plant is scheduled for start-up in Q3 2019.
Measuring ash content
However, apart from energy content, the value of the biocoal fuel is also directly dependent on its ash content, and according to Mantex, previous attempts in finding a fast, simple and reliable method for classifying the quality of the torrefied fuel have thus far proved unsuccessful.
Mantex and American Biocarbon have agreed on a joint collaboration project to calibrate and evaluate the Mantex Biofuel Analyzer for bagasse during 2019. If the project is successful, the Mantex Biofuel Analyzer could become an integral part of American Biocarbon’s torrefied pellet control system.
Energy production in the sugar and alcohol industry is a potentially giant market for us. In addition, American Biocarbon, together with our measurement technology, can provide energy companies with a climate-neutral and high-quality biofuel that directly replaces coal, explained Max Gerger, CEO of Mantex.