Biomass Resources and Conversion Efficiencies in the Cultivation and Processing of Sugarcane for Ethanol and Electricity

03:30 PM - 04:30 PM
Manoel Regis Lima Verde Leal, Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory, Campinas
Center for BioEnergy and Sustainability Seminar
Building 1505, Ocoee Conference Room (189)
Email: Jennifer Smith

Sugarcane is a secular food crop presently produced in more than 100 countries in the tropical areas around the world. Several of these countries are using sugarcane also as an energy crop, via different production systems in some integrated fashion with sugar production. However, maybe due to its origin as a food crop, the conversion of the primary energy of the feedstock into useful forms of energy, such as liquid biofuel and electricity, is, presently, very low barely surpassing 30% even with the state of the art technologies. Most of the socio-environmental impacts of the production chain are associated with the land demand to produce a certain amount of energy that is essentially dependent on the feedstock yield and efficiency of the conversion technology. The latter should take into consideration the maximum use of the primary energy available in the field, avoiding unused residues and wastes. Today, in most distilleries, the sugars in the sugarcane are converted to ethanol in the most efficient way, the fibers in the stalk after the juice extraction process (bagasse) are burned in biomass boilers to produce all the process steam and electricity needed to run the plant, and the fibers in the leaves are either burned in the preharvest or left in the field to decompose. Traditionally, the energy balance in the distillery is set in such a way as to allow the production of all the energy required by the process and using all bagasse available to avoid the cost of disposing of it. More recently, the interest in generating surplus electricity to sell to the grid is increasing and becoming fast a new source of revenues what has brought the attention to the need of more efficiency in the energy balance to increase the electricity to be sold. Lower process steam consumption and high pressure steam generators are becoming the trend in the new. The fibers in the leaves, although representing one third of the sugarcane primary energy in the field still remains essentially unused. This work analyzes the present status of sugarcane to ethanol/electricity energy balances and identifies the areas for improvement, the constraints and technology development needs that can bring the sustainability of sugarcane to a much better level than today, by improving the economics and reducing the land demand for bioenergy.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Manoel Regis Lima Verde Leal is the Institutional Relations Coordinator of CTBE – Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory since January 2014. From 2009 to 2013 he was the Sustainability Program Coordinator of CTBE. His previous jobs include the Copersucar Technology Center (CTC), now Sugarcane Technology Center, for 18 year, and also as Associate Researcher at the Center for Energy Planning of the University of Campinas. His work is focused on the study of potential evolution of the technologies applied in the exploiting sugarcane as energy source for the production of ethanol and electricity aiming at the improvement of the Sustainability indicators of bioethanol. He is National Team Leader representing Brazil in the Task 38 (Greenhouse Gas Balances and Bioenergy Systems) of the IEA Bioenergy. He graduated in Aeronautical Engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (Brazil) and holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas State University (USA).


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