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Sugarcane Breeding Institute develops ‘energy canes’

According to reports, city-based Sugarcane Breeding Institute has developed energy canes, which are expected to give high yield and is being evaluated at Samalkot in Andhra Pradesh, a senior institute official said today.

‘Genotype I’, as against commercial sugarcanes, has high fibre and relatively low sucrose, which can serve as dual purpose cane for both sugar and energy and can be processed in existing sugar mills, Institute’s Director N Vijayan Nair told reporters here.

Type II category energy canes were specifically bred for high biomass yield, with high fibre and low sucrose and were exclusively used for energy generation, he said.

The juice of Type I energy can be used in distilleries for direct fermentation and fibre for cogeneration, while Type II cane will be primarily used for cogeneration and production of cellulosic ethanol, Nair said

He was speaking on the sidelines of a National symposium on ‘Bioenergy for sustainable development-the potential role of sugar crops’.

Claiming that the energy canes, at testing stage, have given 200 tonnes per hectare, he said once the sugar industry is ready to adopt the cane, the Institute would go for large scale multiplication of the varieties.

Earlier, addressing the symposium, Nair said though five per cent ethanol blending with petrol was made mandatory from 2013 in India, the target could not be achieved due to limited availability of bioethanol, even necessitating imports.

The National Policy on Biofuel proposed to scale up blending to 20 per cent by 2017, for which the projected requirement would be about 4,400 million litres as against the current production of about 2,170 million litres, he said.

Cellulosic ethanol is a potential option to meet biofuel requirements, given the large biomass availability in India and ONGC is collaborating with a Finnish firm Chemplois for its production, while another venture is coming up in Maharashtra with technical collaboration of Praj Industries, he said.

The policy document of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimated that the total potential for biomass energy generation in India was 23,7000 MW, of which 5,000 MW will be from cogeneration units in sugar mills, Nair said.

K Ramasamy, vice-chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University inaugurated the symposium, in which nearly 300 scientists and researchers from across India are taking part.

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