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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Commodity Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333724

Research Project: Developing Technologies that Enable Growth and Profitability in the Commercial Conversion of Sugarcane, Sweet Sorghum, and Energy Beets into Sugar, Advanced Biofuels, and Bioproducts

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Microbial and physicochemical properties of sugarcane bagasse for potential conversion to value-added products

item Wright, Maureen
item Lima, Isabel
item Bigner, Renee

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2017
Publication Date: 6/22/2017
Citation: Wright, M., Lima, I., Bigner, R. 2017. Microbial and physicochemical properties of sugarcane bagasse for potential conversion to value-added products. In: Proceedings for the Advances in Sugar Crop Processing and Conversion Conference, March 15-18, 2016, New Orleans, Louisiana. p.224-238.

Interpretive Summary: Sugarcane bagasse accumulates at sugar mills generating large piles of unused solid material after stalks are crushed to collect juice. Handling of the mounds can create hazards, including combustion. Mills use bagasse as a fuel to operate boiler on-site, but they consume a fraction of the amount produced. The work presented here establishes properties of the material and analyzes stability of bagasse from a research farm as well as three factories. The factories each handle their bagasse differently. The data presented show that fuel value maintained by covering the bagasse is significantly higher than the fuel value of uncovered material.

Technical Abstract: Sugarcane bagasse is a potential source for commercially-viable products such as animal feed, mulch, or fuel. The products or other applications of converted bagasse will be determined by the levels of moisture, ash and beneficial chemicals in the bagasse. Manufacturing value-added products will be impacted by microbes, and may require microbial conversion of the substrate. Microbes present in bagasse have potential for its conversion to beneficial products since they have the ability to metabolize fibers, and to survive the environmental conditions in bagasse. These microbes also have the potential to interfere with the production of desired products. An analysis of both microbes and chemicals present in bagasse is necessary to determine the most viable potential applications. This study evaluates the microbial and physico-chemical properties in sugarcane bagasse samples from three different varieties in a research setting, and samples of mixed bagasse varieties at three factories. All samples were collected in south Louisiana. Stalks from individual varieties were either shredded or passed through a roller mill. The fresh mixed variety bagasse was collected from the final tandem mill at a factory. The stored mixed variety bagasse was collected from piles at the factories. Samples for microbial analysis were grown on two types of growth media. One medium, MRS, selects for Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and other microbes that metabolize sugars and produce degradation products. The second medium, NA, allows growth of a broad range of microbes that are present in the cane growing environment. Microbial counts and types were compared across varieties and processing methods, and were correlated with physicochemical analyses. Fuel value of bagasse was significantly reduced when bagasse was stored uncovered.