2012 has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, lots of us rightly or wrongly, run our bodies on sugar – what about running the rest of our lives on sugar power ?
Biofuels are one big idea, that has been touted as a way to provide much needed energy. The world is at the cusp of a new energy dispensation, but currently burning things other than fossil fuel, although possible, is not really sustainable and puts food supplies at risk.
But there is one big exception – a spectacular success story.
The 100 % sustainable biofuel
But, the process of making sugar, creates a heap of waste, collectively referred to as bagasse. Bagasse is the fibrous remains left after the sugarcane stalks have been crushed, to extract their sweet juice.
Bagasse a big nuisance
A sugar mill can quickly generate sky high piles of bagasse. These stacks of dry twigs are highly flammable, a stray spark could create an inferno, plus they take up space, so it is necessary to take steps to remove it.
Traditionally, the waste was either buried in giant landfills or burned, both solutions contributed to greenhouse gas emissions.
Burn the bagasse for fuel
The sugar industry wanted to solve the bagasse problem in a more environmentally sustainable way.
The solution they came up with, was to burn the bagasse, but instead of allowing the twigs to go up in smoke, the engineers harnassed the heat energy, in the same way as the energy is harnassed from coal burning, to produce electricity.
Sugar mills run on sugar electricity
Today, most sugar mills are wired in such a way as to run on sugar power.
Improvements in co-generation technology, means that sugar mills are self-sufficient i.e. they don’t use electricity, in fact, sugar mills are increasingly producing more electricity than they need to run their own operations. Many sugar mills around the world, sell the extra electricity they generate to the national grid, for ordinary consumers like you and me to use.
Running on sugar
The world really can run on sugar.
Lots of industries generate waste materials, finding ways to turn these “wastes” into fuel, will bring sustainable energy to all.
NOTE : It probably is not a good idea to run your body exclusively on sugar.
Interested in learning more about the best way to supply energy to your world ?
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