Sugarcane trash and whole cane pyrolysis in brazil
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Sugarcane Trash and Whole Cane Pyrolysis in Brazil. Luís Cortez UNICAMP/FAPESP. 3rd ISBUC Meeting Mauritius, 29-30 June 2009. State University of Campinas UNICAMP. State University of Campinas UNICAMP. Not used in the “old production model”. Sugarcane Trash. Harvest (green cane)

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Sugarcane Trash and Whole Cane Pyrolysis in Brazil

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Sugarcane Trash and Whole Cane Pyrolysis in Brazil

Luís Cortez


3rd ISBUC Meeting

Mauritius, 29-30 June 2009

State University of CampinasUNICAMP

State University of CampinasUNICAMP

Not used in the “old production model”

Sugarcane Trash

Harvest (green cane)

Sugarcane trash left on the soil

Level of harvest mechanization:

São Paulo State: 50-60%

Brazil: 35-40%

Manual harvesting(cane burning)

The sugarcane trash is burned to increase the harvest yield




Harvesting: sugarcane trash scattered field

Accumulation of sugarcane trash

Packing: to increase density for transport

Sugarcane trashbales



  • Biochemical routes

    Acid hydrolysis

    Enzymatic hydrolysis

  • Termochemical routes

    Fast pyrolysis


    Gasification + catalytic conversion


Pyrolysis is a thermochemical conversion process. It is characterized by the thermal degradation of a solid fuel with restricted oxygen supply. It can be used to convert biomass into value added products.

  • Primary products formed during pyrolysis of biomass:

  • Charcoal

  • Bio-oil (Formed mainly by phenolic derivatives)

  • Acid (Formed by carboxylic acids)

Pyrolysis plant ( PPR-200)

Partnership Unicamp and Bioware

Nominal capacity: 200 kg/h dry biomass

Operating temperature range: 450-500oC

Average yields: 30% bio-oil, 20% charcoal, 10% acid, 40% gases

Background of the biomass pyrolysis pilot plantPPR-200

1996: First prototype built with TERMOQUIP cooperation

1998: The reactor was used for biomass gasification

2001: Reactor used for charcoal production

2004: Modification to increase liquids products yield

2007: Tests with whole Cane

1. Feeding silo

2. Feeding screw

3. Fluidized bed reactor

4. Cyclone 1

5. Cyclone 2

6. Recovery system of bio-oil and acid

7. Acid reservoir

8. System charcoal extraction

9. Charcoal storage silo

10. Combustion chamber

11. Chimney

12. Heat exchanger

13. Hot gas blower

14. Atmospheric air blower

Schematics of the fast pyrolysis plant PPR-200

Fast pyrolysisreactor plant PPR-200

Reactor technical specifications

Main physicochemical properties of silica sand

Bio-oil separation column

Unicamp/Bioware developed a commercial prototype to cool the gas, use centrifugation to separate the mist and condensate the bio-oil. Phase separation into aqueous and oil phases

Power required in the pyrolysis plant

8.65 kW

PPR-200 plant in operation

Cyclones for separation of fine Charcoal


Feeding silo

Feeding screw

Fine charcoal



Acid Reservoir



Extraction of bio-oil

8.65 kW

137.6 kW


(gas + loss)

248.4 kW

311 kW

220 kW

Energy balance PPR-200

8.65 kW

Some biomass tested in PPR-200

Fast pyrolysis requires small-particle biomass in the range of 2 to 4 mm and moisture content up to 15% wt.

Products yield for some types of biomass processed in PPR-200

Fast pyrolysisapplication products

Pyrolysis tests with sugarcane trash and whole cane

Present situation in Brazil

  • the “Brazilian Model” of simultaneous production of sugar and ethanol may be reaching its maximum (today 40-60%):

    • 60% of fuel used in light vehicles (domestic market)

    • 30% of world sugar exports (foreign trade)

  • Which are the new possibilities for Brazilian sugarcane?

Whole Cane vs “By-Products” Approach

  • most likely other production models will appear, such as “new energy plants”, dedicated only to produce ethanol, electricity and bio-products (e.g. plastics)

  • in Brazil, it makes sense to produce electricity from lignocellulosic by-products because we will have difficulties to expand electricity generation using hydro resources (Amazon)

  • another way: to convert the “whole cane” (sugars, bagasse and trash) with minimum energy use, into products that can either enter in an oil refinery or be transformed...

Energy content of one ton of sugarcane

(*) Bagasse moisture: 50%

(**) Sugarcane trash moisture: 15%

Sugarcane trash reception and pre-treatment

Whole cane reception and pre-treatment

Whole Cane



Ultimate and Proximate chemical analysis of sugarcane trash

Proximate analysis of bio-oil from whole sugarcane and sugarcane trash

Ultimate analysis of bio-oil from whole sugarcane and sugarcane trash

Pyrolysis productivity

(sugarcane trash x whole cane)

(*) Bio-oil + Charcoal

Whole cane pyrolysis x Ethanol fermentation

(*) Energy products/Energy primary sugarcane

Not considering drying energy

The future may be “BTL”

Whole cane (880 GJ/ha)


(Conversion efficiency= 80%)

704 GJ/ha


(Conversion efficiency= 90%)

633.6 GJ/ha

Synthesis FT

(Conversion efficiency= 90%)


570 GJ/ha

Overall efficiency: 65%

Thank you!

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