Environmental Assessment of Power Generation From Bagasse at a Sugar Factory in Thailand

D. Janghathaikul, Shabbir H. Gheewala


Bagasse, the waste from sugar processing, is one of the biomass residues used as fuel. It canthus be a useful renewable resource for energy which also promises to avoid the environmentalemissions of power generation from fossil fuels. Nevertheless, it should be confirmed that powerproduction from bagasse is friendly for the environment. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a very usefultool for such an evaluation. In this study, the LCA methodology is used for the environmentalassessment of energy production from bagasse at Ratchasima Sugar Mill, Thailand. The sugar millprocesses 30,000 tons of sugarcane per day. The power plant, attached to the sugar mill, is ofcogeneration type. The energy and water balance show that 272 tons of bagasse can produce 342tons of steam at 420?C used in the sugar process and about 25.5 MWh of electricity. Since the carbonin bagasse is part of the global carbon cycle, the CO2 emission from the combustion of bagasse doesnot contribute to global warming. Therefore, the study focuses on the acidifying gases, NOx and SOx,which are also of concern in fossil-based power generation. A low amount of nitrogen (1.82%) andsulphur (<1%) in bagasse and low combustion temperatures contribute to low NOx and SO2 formation.Consequently, bagasse can be an environmentally-friendly raw material for power generation andhas high potential as an alternate, renewable source of energy.

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