The sugar cane industry is the second-largest agro-based industry in India and supports approximately 60 million farmers and their families. The sugarcane industry however produces significant waste (~80 million tons of bagasse, 10 million tons of press mud and 25 billion liters of distillery spentwash). The huge quantities of waste pose a significant challenge as well as an opportunity. The key challenges in valorization of these waste are development of a cost effective pre-treatment, transformation of sugars to high value material and product separation. In this project, we aim to develop and commercialise technologies for transforming these wastes to transportation fuels (bioCNG and biobutanol), and other value added chemicals (succinic acid and lactic acid). The key innovation lies in pre-treatment methods using thermal process, cavitation and anaerobic digestion. We aim to develop intensified and modular pre-treatment & biotransformations to make value added products which will realise a step change in the state of the art. The developed solutions will make tangible & significant beneficial impact on wellbeing of large population in rural India.
Fermentation process for transforming sugars from detoxified biomass to butanol will be specifically developed at the University of Nottingham, supported by Queen's University of Belfast on Process separations and process intensification aspects. S Patil from the Vasantdada Sugar Institute in India will also contribute along with the support from Green Fuels Research (UK) and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi teams for downstream processing.
1. Identifying and optimising appropriate bio transformation agents
2. Optimisation of process conditions to maximise yield and product concentration for butanol
3. Development and optimisation of butanol recovery to meet desired product specifications