Business

Ethanol producers use sugarcane byproducts to generate electricity

Electricity generated from sugarcane bagasse has allowed ethanol plants to power their own operations, as well as providing surplus electricity to the national power grid

Ethanol plant in the state of São Paulo. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock
Ethanol plant in the state of São Paulo. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

Brazil is the largest sugarcane producer on the planet, being home to 40 percent of the world’s crops. And in Brazilian plants, the same feedstocks used to make sugar and ethanol — fueling almost one-half of the country’s entire fleet of automobiles and motorcycles — also supply enough electricity to power 12 million homes.

This energy is deemed as being renewable — as it is made using sugarcane bagasse — and clean, owing to its low-pollution production process using gas scrubbers. Every ton of sugarcane used to make sugar and ethanol generates an average of 250 kilograms...

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