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Chapter 12

Sugarcane Bagasse

Binod Parameswaran

Contents
12.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
12.2 Processing of Sugarcane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
12.3 Composition of Bagasse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
12.4 Biotechnological Potential of Sugarcane Bagasse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
12.4.1 Sugarcane Bagasse as Animal Feed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
12.4.2 Sugarcane Bagasse for the Production of Industrially Important Enzymes . . 241
12.5 Pre-treatment Methods for Sugarcane Bagasse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
12.6 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248

Abstract Advances in industrial biotechnology offer potential opportunities for


economic utilization of agro-industrial residues. Sugarcane bagasse is the major
by-product of the sugar cane industry. It contains about 50% cellulose, 25% hemi-
cellulose and 25% lignin. Due to its abundant availability, it can serve as an ideal
substrate for microbial processes for the production of value-added products such as
protein enriched animal feed, enzymes, amino acids, organic acids and compounds
of pharmaceutical importance etc. Since untreated bagasse is degraded very slowly
by micro-organisms, a pre-treatment step may be useful for improved substrate
utilization. This chapter reviews the developments on processes and products de-
veloped for the value-addition of sugarcane bagasse through the biotechnological
means and it also discuss about various pre-treatment methods for efficient utiliza-
tion of this substrate for the production of fermentable sugars.
Keywords Sugarcane bagasse · Industrial enzymes · Value-added products ·
Bioethanol · Bioplastics

B. Parameswaran (B)
Bioenergy Research Centre, Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), Yusong, Daejon 305-343,
Republic of Korea
e-mail: binodkannur@yahoo.com

P. Singh nee’ Nigam, A. Pandey (eds.), Biotechnology for Agro-Industrial Residues 239
Utilisation, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9942-7 12,

C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009
240 B. Parameswaran

12.1 Introduction

Sugarcane is the common name of a species of herb belonging to the grass family.
The official classification of sugarcane is Saccharum officinarum, and it belongs to
the family Gramineae. It is common in tropical and subtropical countries through-
out the world. It can grow from eight to twenty feet tall, and is generally about 2
inches thick. Several different horticultural varieties are known, and they differ by
their stem color and length. About 200 countries cultivate this crop and Brazil is
the world’s largest sugar cane producer, responsible for around 25 percent of total
world production, followed by India, Pakistan, China and Thailand. India is second
largest producer of sugar in the world. In India there are about 571 sugar mills which
produce a total quantity of 19.2 million tones (MT). Uses of sugar cane include the
production of sugar, Falernum, molasses, rum, soda, cachaça (the national spirit of
Brazil) and ethanol for fuel.

12.2 Processing of Sugarcane


Sugar processing begins when the cane plant arrives at the sugar mill. Rotating
knives, shredders, and crushers extract the juice from the cane. Heating the juice
evaporates off excess water and condenses the juice into thick syrup. Sugar granules
act as seed crystals when they are added to the syrup, making the dissolved sugar in
the syrup crystalize. When as much sugar as possible has crystallized in the syrup,
the mix is spun in a centrifuge, which separates the remaining syrup (now called
molasses) from the raw sugar crystals. The fibrous residue of cane stalk left over
after the crushing and extraction of juice from the sugar cane is called bagasse.

12.3 Composition of Bagasse

Bagasse consists of approximately 50% cellulose and 25% each of hemicellulose


and lignin. Chemically, bagasse contains about 50% ␣-cellulose, 30% pentosans and
2.4% ash. Because of its low ash content, bagasse offers numerous advantages for
usage in bioconversion processes using microbial cultures. Also, in comparison to
other agricultural residues, bagasse can be considered as a rich solar energy reservoir
due to its high yields (about 80 tonnes per hectare in comparison to about 1, 2 and
20 tonnes per hectare for wheat, other grasses and trees, respectively) and annual
regeneration capacity (Pandey et al. 2000).

12.4 Biotechnological Potential of Sugarcane Bagasse

Sugar cane bagasse is a lignocellulosic material providing an abundant and renew-


able energy source. It is one of the largest cellulosic agro-industrial by-products.
Several processes and products have been reported that utilize sugarcane bagasse