Clean Energy 4 Africa

Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa with a total land area of 1,882,000 km2 . Arable land area account for 200 million acres however, only 40 million acres have been cultivated. Total water resources are 30.8 billion m3 for a population of approximately 40 million (with growth rate 2.84% per year). Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the country that play a big role in the country’s economy. Main crops include maize, wheat, millet, cotton and peanuts. Other grown crops mainly are sugarcane, dates, sunflowers, sorghum and citrus. Sugarcane, in particular, is an important resource which can increase Sudan’s energy production from biomass.

Bagasse is the fibrous leftover after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice. Composition of bagasse varies with harvesting methods, maturity and variety of sugar canes. Chemically, it contains about 50% α-cellulose, 30% pentosans and 2.4% ash. Since Bagasse is a by-product of the sugar cane industry, the quantity of production in a country is in line with the quantity of sugar cane produced. Typically an approximate of 250 kg of bagasse can be produced out of one ton. These residues provide significant amount of biomass for electricity production especially with advanced cogeneration technologies.

The Bagasse has a gross calorific value of 19,250 kj/kg at zero moisture content and 9,950 kj/kg at 48% moisture content. Net calorific value at 48% moisture content is 8,000 kj/kg. As indicated the moisture content is a vital parameter in identifying the magnitude of the calorific value in a given amount of Bagasse. Poor milling processes would result in Bagasse with 52% moisture content; however factories with good milling processes can produce Bagasse with 48% moisture content.

Sudan has a great potential for utilizing Bagasse in cogeneration of electricity and bio-ethanol which has numerous advantages such as minimizing harmful emissions from fossil fuels combustion, promotion of renewable energy, and enhancing energy security. Realizing this potential requires a sound assessment of the technical potential for Bagasse cogeneration, an investigation of the most appropriate processes, and ensuring the local grid’s readiness for renewable energy electricity.

Read more about this topic in this report by Musadag El Zein.

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Mohamed Alhaj

Dr. Mohamed Alhaj is a Sudanese renewable energy engineer and researcher with a strong interest in the role of clean energy in Africa's sustainable development.

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