New Method of Ethanol Production From Sugarcane Yields Water as Byproduct
photo by Ben Garland
Here's something that, unless you are intimately familiar with how sugarcane is processed, you may not be aware of: The most efficient Brazilian sugarcane mills consume about 1,800 liters of water per tonne of cane processed. Considering that by most assessments water is going to be an increasingly important and scarce commodity, the development of a system for processing sugarcane which not only uses no additional water, but actually produces water as a byproduct, is certainly an interesting development.
Brazilian biofuel equipment manufacturer Dedini has announced just such a system. Suitable for use both in straight sugar mills and those for ethanol, the method takes advantage of the fact that sugarcane is 70% water and uses this water in processing the cane. In fact, an additional 300 liters of water per tonne of processed cane is also produced. Dedini says that at some plants in excess of 3.6 million liters of water can be produced per day in this manner.
A spokesperson for Dedini told Reuters that, "The quality of the resulting water is better than the one from rivers." This isn't to say that the water is potable however. In its press release, Dedini said the water is only suitable for industrial uses or for irrigation.