India, the world’s largest sugar producer, has found a valuable use for pressmud, a byproduct generated during sugarcane processing. This fibrous residue, once considered a waste product, is now being converted into compressed biogas (CBG) using anaerobic digestion technology. CBG is a clean-burning fuel with a variety of applications, including transportation, cooking, and industrial heating.
The utilization of pressmud for CBG production offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides a sustainable solution for waste management in sugar mills, which generate millions of tonnes of pressmud annually. By converting pressmud into CBG, sugar mills can effectively reduce their environmental footprint while generating additional income.
Secondly, pressmud is readily available and abundant, particularly in regions with extensive sugarcane cultivation. This accessibility ensures a consistent supply of feedstock for CBG plants, reducing the reliance on other sources like agricultural residues or dung, which can be subject to seasonal fluctuations and supply chain disruptions.
Furthermore, biogas produced from pressmud has a higher methane content compared to biogas derived from other feedstocks, making it more efficient and energy-dense. This translates into lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions, contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable energy mix.
To fully unlock the potential of pressmud-based CBG production, certain interventions are necessary. States with the highest CBG potential from pressmud should implement bioenergy policies that streamline the approval process for projects. Additionally, a mechanism to control pressmud prices is essential to prevent long-term economic instability in CBG plants.
The Indian government has recognized the potential of pressmud as a game-changer for the CBG sector. The Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme, launched in 2018, provides financial incentives for setting up CBG plants utilizing pressmud as feedstock. This initiative has spurred significant investment in the sector, with several CBG plants based on pressmud already operational or under construction.
The utilization of pressmud for CBG production is not only beneficial for the environment and the economy but also holds immense social implications. By providing employment opportunities in rural areas, particularly in sugarcane-growing regions, pressmud-based CBG plants can contribute to poverty alleviation and social upliftment.
India’s sugar mills are leading the way in transforming waste into wealth, paving the path for a greener and more energy-independent future. The utilization of pressmud for CBG production is a testament to the industry’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.