Green charcoal product on the cards: report

02 April 2013 - 09:12 By Sapa

Mpumalanga cane growers may soon have a new green charcoal product in retail shops made from sugar cane biomass.

"The problem is that this reservoir was untapped," Justin Murray, grower affairs manager for the Mpumalanga Cane Growers Association told Business Day.

"We are developing an innovative and scalable technology to increase growers' revenue and to generate some value from this biomass."

Growers were eager to find alternative usage for sugar cane biomass because the sugar industry was in trouble, Murray said.

The cane growing sector had not made an economic return in a decade and growers were exiting the industry.

A market for fibre would improve revenue.

After several tests using torrefaction technology, the association believed an opportunity existed to establish and run a pilot plant at the cost of R20m, which would offer sugar cane farmers a market for their business.

The technology has been developed through efforts between Stellenbosch University, Tshwane University of Technology and engineering company Aurecon.