Sugarcane bagasse in Hainan, China

Bagasse (/bəˈɡæs/ bə-GAS) is the dry pulpy fibrous material that remains after crushing sugarcane or sorghum stalks to extract their juice.[1] It is used as a biofuel for the production of heat, energy, and electricity, and in the manufacture of pulp and building materials. Agave bagasse is similar, but is the material remnants after extracting blue agave sap.


The word comes from bagasse (French) and bagazo (Spanish), meaning refuse or trash. It originally referred to the material left after pressing olives, palm nuts, and grapes. The word eventually came to be used in the context of processing of plants such as sugarcane and sugar beets. Today, it usually refers to by-products of the sugarcane mill.[1]


Bagasse is the solid by-product when the liquid components are extracted from plants. Much of the core of those plants is a heterogeneous "pith" fibre. This fibre is primarily parenchyma tissue, along with bast, rind, or stem fibers of the sclerenchyma.

Here's an example chemical analysis of washed and dried bagasse:[2]


Sugarcane being crushed in Engenho da Calheta, Madeira. The bagasse falls down a chute and is removed on a conveyor belt below.

For every 10 tonnes of sugarcane crushed, a sugar factory produces nearly three tonnes of wet bagasse. It is challenging to use this byproduct directly as a fuel because of the high moisture content, typically 40–50 percent. Instead, bagasse is typically stored prior to further processing.

For electricity production, the bagasse is stored under moist conditions. Under these conditions, the bagasse undergoes a mild exothermic process as the residual sugars slightly degrade.

For paper and pulp production, the bagasse is normally stored wet so as to facilitate the subsequent removal of any remaining sugar as well as the short pith fibres. These fibres would impede the paper making process.


Bagasse covered with blue plastic outside a sugar mill in Proserpine, Queensland

Numerous research efforts have explored using bagasse in the production of bio-based materials and as a biofuel in renewable power generation.[3]


Sugarcane bagasse biomass (SB) has the potential to be transformed into energy, materials, and fine chemicals.[4]

Extensive research has revealed a promising avenue for enhancing energy recovery through the conversion of agricultural residues into biochar which is a solid product. This transformation is achieved by employing thermochemical and biochemical techniques following the devolatilization process of biomass. These innovative methods offer a compelling opportunity to harness greater energy potential from agricultural leftovers, paving the way for sustainable and efficient resource utilization.[4][5]

Biochars have some important physicochemical properties like higher surface area and porosity, low bulk density, higher cation exchange capacity (CEC), neutral to high pH, and higher carbon content. Such characteristics can effectively be utilized in various fields such as adsorption, as construction material, automobile, transportation, furniture making, household applications, cement, and the plastic industry.[4][6]


Sugar mills often use bagasse as a primary fuel source. When burned in quantity, bagasse produces enough heat energy to fully power a typical sugar mill, with some energy to spare. Cogeneration is a common setup, with this extra energy sold to the consumer electrical grid. Historically, bagasse was also used to fuel steam locomotives that brought the cut cane to the mills.

The CO2 emissions from burning the bagasse in a sugarcane plant is less than the amount of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere when the sugarcane grows, which could make the process carbon-neutral or better.[7] In contrast, a study in the International Journal of Global Warming warned that electricity generation with bagasse would never be fully carbon-free but did represent a large reduction in carbon emissions compared to the use of diesel.[8] In countries such as Australia, sugar factories contribute this "green" power to the electricity grid. Hawaiian Electric Industries also burns bagasse for cogeneration.

Ethanol produced from the sugar is a popular fuel in Brazil. The cellulose-rich bagasse is also being investigated for its potential in producing commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol. For example, until May 2015, BP operated a cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Jennings, Louisiana.

Bagasse from sugarcane production offers an attractive feedstock for the production of biofuel and value-added products as it does not affect food security. Second generation biohydrogen, biomethane, biomethanol, or bioethanol through the biochemical route is considered to not only be an eco-friendly, but also economically feasible option. [9][10][11] Thermochemical production pathways, such as hydrothermal liquefaction, pyrolysis and gasification of bagasse are a promising alternative to produce advanced 2G biofuels (e.g. jet fuel and Diesel) and chemicals (e.g. for plastics) with low life cycle impacts.[12][13]

Pulp, paper, board and feed

In many tropical and subtropical countries such as India, China, Colombia, Iran, Thailand, and Argentina, bagasse is commonly used instead of wood in the production of pulp, paper and board. This substitution produces pulp with physical properties that are well suited for printing and notebook paper, tissue products, boxes, and newspapers.[2] It can also be used for making boards resembling plywood or particle board, known called bagasse boards and Xanita boards. These are widely used in the production of partitions and furniture.

The industrial process to convert bagasse into paper was developed in 1937 at a small laboratory in Hacienda Paramonga, a sugar mill on the coast of Peru owned by the W.R. Grace Company. Using a promising method invented by Clarence Birdseye,[14][15] the company bought an old paper mill in Whippany, New Jersey and shipped bagasse from Peru there to test the viability of the process on an industrial scale. The first bagasse paper manufacturing machines were designed in Germany and installed in the Cartavio sugar cane plant in 1938.[16]

On January 26-27, 1950, the Noble & Wood Machine Company, the Kinsley Chemical Company, and the Chemical Paper Company jointly demonstrated the first successful commercial production of newsprint produced from bagasse at Chemical Paper's mills in Holyoke. The process's first use was in the printing of a special edition of the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram. This demonstration was done in collaboration with the governments of Puerto Rico and Argentina due to the economic importance of the product in countries without ready access to wood fibers. The work was presented before representatives of 100 industrial interests and officials from 15 countries.[17][18][19]


Nanocellulose, a higher-value product, can be produced from bagasse[20] through various conventional and novel processes.[21]

Health impact

Sugarcane bagasse piled outside a mill, to be used as fuel for the mill's boilers. Thakurgaon Sugar Mills Ltd. Bangladesh. (02.03.2019)

Workplace exposure to dust from the processing of bagasse can cause bagassosis, a subtype of the chronic lung condition pulmonary fibrosis.[22]

Human consumption

Sugarcane fiber, a variety of processed bagasse, is sometimes added to human food.[23] It is a soluble fiber that can help promote intestinal regularity.[23] One animal study suggests that sugarcane fiber combined with a high-fat diet may help control type 2 diabetes.[24] It is a good source of lignoceric and cerotic acids.[25]

In the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China, bagasse is sometimes used to smoke bacon and sausages.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bagasse - plant fibre". Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2016-05-10. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  2. ^ a b Rainey, Thomas J (2009). A study of the permeability and compressibility properties of bagasse pulp. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology.
  3. ^ Maheswari R.U., Mavukkandy M.O., Adhikari U., Naddeo V., Sikder J., Arafat H.A. (2020) (2020). "Synergistic effect of humic acid on alkali pretreatment of sugarcane bagasse for the recovery of lignin with phenomenal properties". Biomass and Bioenergy. 134: 105486. Bibcode:2020BmBe..13405486U. doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2020.105486. S2CID 213923572.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b c Zafeer, Mohd. Khalid; Menezes, Rachel Alveera; Venkatachalam, H.; Bhat, K. Subrahmanya (2023-12-08). "Sugarcane bagasse-based biochar and its potential applications: a review". Emergent Materials. 7: 133–161. doi:10.1007/s42247-023-00603-y. ISSN 2522-574X. This article incorporates text from this source, which is available under the CC BY 4.0 license.
  5. ^ Ibrahim, Muhammad; Li, Gang; Chan, Faith Ka Shun; Kay, Paul; Liu, Xiao-Xia; Firbank, Les; Xu, Yao-Yang (2019-08-01). "Biochars effects potentially toxic elements and antioxidant enzymes in Lactuca sativa L. grown in multi-metals contaminated soil". Environmental Technology & Innovation. 15: 100427. Bibcode:2019EnvTI..1500427I. doi:10.1016/j.eti.2019.100427. ISSN 2352-1864.
  6. ^ Senadheera, Sachini Supunsala; Gupta, Souradeep; Kua, Harn Wei; Hou, Deyi; Kim, Sumin; Tsang, Daniel C. W.; Ok, Yong Sik (2023-10-01). "Application of biochar in concrete – A review". Cement and Concrete Composites. 143: 105204. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2023.105204. ISSN 0958-9465.
  7. ^ "What is bagasse and how is it used to generate electricity?". Our World on Energy. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  8. ^ Coelho Junior, Luiz Moreira; Da Silva Segundo, Valdir Bernardino; Dos Santos, Nataly Albuquerque; De Medeiros, Mariane Gama; Carvalho, Monica (2019). "Carbon footprint of the generation of bioelectricity from sugarcane bagasse in a sugar and ethanol industry". International Journal of Global Warming. 17 (3): 236, 246–47. doi:10.1504/IJGW.2019.10020020. S2CID 109849984.
  9. ^ Pan, Shiyou; Zabed, Hossain M.; Wei, Yutuo; Qi, Xianghui (2022-11-15). "Technoeconomic and environmental perspectives of biofuel production from sugarcane bagasse: Current status, challenges and future outlook". Industrial Crops and Products. 188: 115684. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2022.115684. ISSN 0926-6690.
  10. ^ Junqueira, Tassia L.; Dias, Marina O. S.; Cavalett, Otávio; Jesus, Charles D. F.; Cunha, Marcelo P.; Rossell, Carlos E. V.; Maciel Filho, Rubens; Bonomi, Antonio (2012-01-01), Bogle, Ian David Lockhart; Fairweather, Michael (eds.), "Economic and environmental assessment of integrated 1st and 2nd generation sugarcane bioethanol production evaluating different 2nd generation process alternatives", Computer Aided Chemical Engineering, 22 European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering, vol. 30, Elsevier, pp. 177–181, doi:10.1016/b978-0-444-59519-5.50036-8, ISBN 978-0-444-59431-0, retrieved 2023-11-09
  11. ^ Barampouti, Elli Maria; Mai, Sofia; Moustakas, Konstantinos; Malamis, Dimitris; Loizidou, Maria; Passadis, Konstantinos; Stoumpou, Vasileia (2022-01-01), Jeguirim, Mejdi (ed.), "Chapter 3 - Advanced bioethanol production from biowaste streams", Recent Advances in Renewable Energy Technologies, Academic Press, pp. 77–154, doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-823532-4.00006-9, ISBN 978-0-12-823532-4, retrieved 2023-11-09
  12. ^ Ramirez, Jerome A.; Rainey, Thomas J. (2019-08-20). "Comparative techno-economic analysis of biofuel production through gasification, thermal liquefaction and pyrolysis of sugarcane bagasse". Journal of Cleaner Production. 229: 513–527. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.05.017. ISSN 0959-6526.
  13. ^ Petersen, A. M.; Melamu, Rethabi; Knoetze, J. H.; Görgens, J. F. (2015-02-01). "Comparison of second-generation processes for the conversion of sugarcane bagasse to liquid biofuels in terms of energy efficiency, pinch point analysis and Life Cycle Analysis". Energy Conversion and Management. 91: 292–301. Bibcode:2015ECM....91..292P. doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2014.12.002. ISSN 0196-8904.
  14. ^ Kurlanksy, Mark (2014). Frozen in Time: Clarence Birdseye's Outrageous Idea About Frozen Food. Delacorte Press. ISBN 9780385372442.
  15. ^ "Clarence Birdseye | Biography, Frozen Food, & Facts | Britannica". 5 December 2023.
  16. ^ Lawrence A., Clayton (1985). Grace: W.R. Grace & Co., the Formative Years, 1850-1930. Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books. pp. 354. ISBN 978-0915463251.
  17. ^ "Paper Making From Cane Waste To Get First Practical Test Today; Representatives of 15 Countries to Witness Printing Demonstration at Holyoke, Mass". Business & Finance Section. New York Times. January 27, 1950. p. 42 – via United States Congress House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee No. 5.
  18. ^ "Paper Making from Cane Waste to Get First Practical Test Today—Representatives of 15 Countries to Witness Printing Demonstration at Holyoke, Mass.—Subsidiary Developing Group Formed". Business & Finance Section. The New York Times. January 28, 1950. p. 20 – via United States Congress House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee No. 5.
  19. ^ "Newsprint from Bagasse Advanced as Factoies Are Proposed Abroad". Times-Picayune. New Orleans, La. January 29, 1950. p. 28 – via Associated Press.
  20. ^ Bras, Julien; Hassan, Mohammad L.; Bruzesse, Cecile; Hassan, Enas A.; El-Wakil, Nahla A.; Dufresne, Alain (2010-11-01). "Mechanical, barrier, and biodegradability properties of bagasse cellulose whiskers reinforced natural rubber nanocomposites". Industrial Crops and Products. 32 (3): 627–633. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2010.07.018. ISSN 0926-6690.
  21. ^ Sofla, M. Rahimi Kord; Brown, R. J.; Tsuzuki, T.; Rainey, T. J. (2016). "A comparison of cellulose nanocrystals and cellulose nanofibres extracted from bagasse using acid and ball milling methods". Advances in Natural Sciences: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. 7 (3): 035004. Bibcode:2016ANSNN...7c5004R. doi:10.1088/2043-6262/7/3/035004. hdl:1885/153605. ISSN 2043-6262.
  22. ^ Sodeman, William A (October 1967). "Bagasse Disease of the Lungs – After 25 Years" (PDF). Chest. 52 (4): 505–507. doi:10.1378/chest.52.4.505. PMID 6058449.
  23. ^ a b "Fiber Facts: Understanding Food Labels and Isolated Fibers". Nutrition411.
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  25. ^ Nnabugwu Agomuo E, Amadi Peter U (2018). "Nutrient and Antioxidant Properties of Oils from Bagasses, Agricultural Residues, Medicinal Plants, and Fodders". J Am Coll Nutr. 38 (2): 132–140. doi:10.1080/07315724.2018.1484307. PMID 30052146. S2CID 51725190.

Further reading