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OWOE - Other Renewables Energy - What is bagasse and how is it used to generate electricity?
  Figure 1 - Florida Crystals Renewable Energy Facility (Florida Crystals)
 
Figure 1 - Florida Crystals Renewable Energy Facility (Florida Crystals)
 
Figure 2 - Illustration of Sugar Cane Life-cycle (Florida Crystals)
 
What is bagasse and how is it used to generate electricity?

Bagasse is the dry pulpy residue that remains after extraction of juice from sugar cane and similar plants. The word comes from from the Spanish bagazo, which meant "rubbish", "refuse", or "trash". Historically, it applied to the fibre residue from the pressing of olives, palm nuts, and grapes; however, modern use is limited to the by-product of the sugar mills. Bagasse is used for making paper in some parts of the world, but in the United States it is primarily used as an alternative fuel source in electrical power generation.

As a fuel, bagasse is typically burned to generate heat and electrical power to support the operations of the sugar mill from which it came. This allows the plant to be energy self-sufficient, minimizes solid waste from the sugar production process, and typically results in excess electricity that is sold to the grid.

CO2 emissions from burning bagasse are less than the amount of CO2 that the sugarcane plant absorbed while growing, which makes it a renewable source of energy that is also greenhouse gas-neutral. The largest biomass power plant in the United States, which uses a combination of bagasse and wood waste, is the 140 MW facility owned by Florida Crystals Corporation (see Figure 1), one of the US's largest sugar companies.The power plant supports the company's large milling and refining operations, with enough excess generation to power about 60,000 homes. Figure 2 illustrates the life-cylcle of sugar cane, with an end product of 1 acre of sugar cane including 10,000 kW of electricity.


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