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The FUTURE of EHANOL
"RENEWABLE, SUSTAINABLE"
and CLEAN ENERGY"

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ETHANOL PRODUCTION FROM SUGARCANE

Sugarcane is an important economic plant; area of sugarcane plantation is around 6.0 million rai. Thailand produced 4.83 ton of sugar in year 2005-2006 or equal to 103.6 sugarcanes/ 1 kg. of sugar and 45.18 sugarcanes/ 1 kg. of molasses. The total volume of sugarcane is 46.69 million ton (atthasith, 2549). Normally, sugar factory can accommodate sugarcane at only .75 million ton which currently sugarcane is shortage.

However in year 2005-2006, Thai can produce sugar at 4.83 million ton of which

1. Use cane juice from fresh sugarcane, bring cane juice and ferment it with yeast, 1 ton of fresh sugarcane can produce 70 liter of ethanol. At the same time if using fresh sugarcane for producing ethanol, the raw material might be shortage. Moreover, by doing so still have some limitation saying that there are problems of plantation and harvesting to factory not more than 5 months during a year. Using sugarcane as a raw material needs to concern of the benefit sharing between sugarcane farmer and sugar factory according to sugarcane and sugar act 1984. In conclusion, using sugarcane as a raw material has limitation however, ethanol production from sugarcane might be considered during the low price of sugar which is quite a good choice for sugar factory and if unwanted to expanse the plantation area, increasing productivity per Rai will be a choice using sugarcane as a raw material in ethanol production factory and have a good advantage in term of lower cost of sugarcane for ethanol production (Niranam, 2545)

2. Using molasses, mixing molasses with yeast by 1 ton of molasses can product ethanol of 260 liter. Molasses is a by-product. Generally in sugar industry, 1 ton of sugar will be resulted in 45-50 kg. /ton of molasses. The volume of sugarcane production in each year is not consistent depends on quantity and quality of sugarcane. The volume of molasses in year 2005-2006 is 2.11 million tons. All of molasses will be for both of domestic consumption and export. Most of domestic consumption will be for liquor and alcohol production industry and also for yeast, seasoning and monosodium glutamate production industries. In the future, the expectation is that the domestic consumption of molasses will increase as there will be more mega projects of ethanol production.

Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol is an alcohol produced from fermentation plants that are starch such as cassava, potato, beetroot and grains e.g. Rice, corn, sorghum including sweeten fruits industry such as sugarcane, sweet sorghum, lychee, longan, pineapple and molasses. New technology tries to turn waste and residues from agro-industry such as cellulose and hemi-cellulose which are a component of plants such as stem, branch e.g. Wood residue from wood factory, saw dust, chaff for producing ethanol. The comparative table as shown below showing the quantity of ethanol produced from materials.

Raw material / 95% ethanol (liter)

Molasses 1 ton / 260
Sugarcane 1 ton / 70
Fresh potato 1 ton / 180
Sorghum 1 ton / 70
Grain (rice, corn) 1 ton 375
Coconut oil 1 ton / 83

Ethanol used as fuel will have to be 95-99.5% of alcohol purity by volume which will be a high octane fuel as it contains 35% of oxygen by weight hence, mixing ethanol with unleaded benzene with the right proportion will produce a cleaner and more complete combustible fuel and less air pollution which is good for the environment.

Using ethanol as a fuel is not only help reduce the import of fuel and MTBE substance from foreign counties but also open the new market for products from agriculture sector especially sugarcane and cassava in which Thailand is the world leading in producing and export and having excess of supply currently in which would help farmers to have more alternatives and revenue including increasing a chance of getting employed in both of agriculture, logistics and industry sectors as well.

The benefits of ethanol as an alternative fuel from agricultural material can be concluded as the following

  • - Farmers have more markets to sell more of raw materials.
  • - Farmers can construct production factory in their area throughout the country.
  • - Be able to produce for internal consumption without limit.
  • - Create more jobs for farmers, reduce unemployment problem and job distribution to rural area.
  • - Save national budget for import expense.
  • - Help the country to have more sources of energy.
  • - Increase the power of negotiation for farmers.
  • - Increase the price of agricultural products and price sustainability.
  • - Reduce air pollution from octane boosting substance, MTBE by mixing with ethanol instead.
  • - Cut logistics and insurance costs in both of exporting products to foreign markets and importing fuel.
  • - In term of economy, boosting capital flow in the system.