Build Your Own Sugarcane Bagasse Pellet Plant

Although they use sugar on a daily basis, most people do not know how the processes of extracting liquid juice from sugarcane. To extract juice, the sugar cane is literally crushed to remove the juice. As a result, a fibrous byproduct called bagasse is left behind. From every ten tonnes of sugarcane, 3 tonnes of bagasse is produced. It is usually changed into pellet form for ease of use. Interestingly even though bagasse is merely a by-product of sugar production, it has many advantageous qualities.
sugarcane bagasse

Creation of Sugarcane Bagasse Pellets

Unfortunately the moisture content of bagasse is nearly 40 to 50 percent. This property makes it an inefficient fuel source. For this reason, further processing is required. When it has to be used as a source of electricity, it needs to be stored while moist to avoid over-drying. For use in paper production, it is stored in wet conditions to aid in excess sugar removal. Before the storage stage, bagasse pellets need to be created from the fibrous raw source.

The first step in the bagasse pellet making process is drying. The bagasse needs to be heated to high temperatures to remove the moisture. The goal is to decrease the moisture content from 40 to 50 percent to 12 percent or less. If this step is ignored, the pellets will not be able to be used for fuel production and will result in rough pellet surfaces.

The second step insugarcane bagasse pellet production process is crushing and cutting the material into small pieces ranging from 3 to 5 millimeters. This makes way for the third and most important step in the process, pelletizing. This step is usually done with the help of pellet mills who have the required machinery to create pellets. Some people try to create their own pellets at home by purchasing the required machinery.

After pellets are created, they are cooled and sieved. Pellet manufacturers usually have large sieving units they use to create large volumes of pellets. The last step in the process is packaging the pellets. This is usually done with the help of large packing machines. Once the pellets are packaged, they can be sent to customers.

sugarcane bagasse pellets

Bagasse pellets applications

  • As a Fuel Source

Because bagasse pellets are created from sugar production, they are mainly used as fuel sources for sugar factories. When large quantities of bagasse are burned, an excess of energy in the form of heat is released. This can often power an entire sugar mill. Since such a large amount of energy is created through combustion, excess energy can be sold onto the consumer electrical grid to create electricity.

Some sugar mill owners sell their excess bagasse pellets to other factories with boilers or export them to foreign countries. Recently many East Asian countries such as China have started imported large quantities of bagasse pellets. An average size power plant usually consumes over 10,000 tonnes of bagasse pellets every month.

  • As Animal Feed
Another way to use bagasse pellets is to feed them to your livestock. To use bagasse as feed it must be processed further by fermenting it. In this step of the process, enzymes and molasses are added to the pellets. Many countries market their pellets as 'fiber rich'.
  • As Pulp and Paper
In countries such as India, China, Colombia, Iran, Thailand and Argentina, bagasse is used in lieu of wood to create paper and pulp. Bagasse has good qualities for creating paper for mass production and distribution. It is also used to create thicker material boxes and boards as a substitute for plywood. Many companies even use it to build furniture.

How to Build a Sugarcane Bagasse Pellet Plant

If you want to create your own sugarcane bagasse pellet plant, the first thing you need to do is decide if you want to process sugar cane and bagasse pellets or only bagasse pellets. This major decision will impact every decision you make henceforth. This will determine the scale of your operation, the capital you will need and the machinery you will need. If you decide you want to process both, you will need to find a sugarcane supplier or purchase your own land to grow sugarcane. Getting started can take years. Processing only sugarcane bagasse pellets is a relatively easier business. You can contact local sugar mills to see if you can purchase their raw bagasse, pre-processing.

The second step would be purchasing the required machinery. You will need processing machines for each step in the manufacturing process. To dry the pellets, you will need a rotary dryer. There are many types of rotary dryers but all of them serve the same purpose. This industrial dryer heats the pellets with hot gas to reduce moisture content. The price of rotary dryers varies greatly depending on manufacturer and size. Be prepared to spend at least $10,000.

The next machine you need to have in your assembly is something that will help you cut the material into smaller pieces. This can be achieved by running the material through a hammer mill crusher. The mechanics of a hammer mill crusher are exactly what they sound like. The machine contains a large hammer that pulverizes the material to create small pieces. Hammer crushers are a lot less expensive than dryers. Expect to purchase one for approximately 5 to 10 thousand dollars.

The next machine you will need to buy is a pellet machine. You cannot spare any expense while purchasing a pellet machine. Each modern pellet machine comes equipped with a cooling chamber. If your pellet machine does not, you will have to buy a separate cooler. In the first step the material is simply loaded into the machine. Most machines come with mechanisms to avoid any spillage or loss of material. The second step involves the formation of pellet shapes with a ring die. The machines are created to withstand vibration to ensure high quality pellet formation. Pellet machines can cost anywhere from $500 onward depending on the size you need to purchase.

Once the pellets are formed and cooled, they can be packaged. Most pellet bags vary from 15 to 50 kilograms. You will need to purchase a packing machine depending on the size of your pellet bags. At this point you will send the bags to your customers.

Once you have all the machinery in place, a location to manufacture and raw material you will need to ensure you have all the proper business licenses. You will also have to hire a full staff to help you run the mill. The process can take months to years depending on the scale so it is best to get started as soon as possible.

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