Sugarcane growers could get a new lease on life after a study found it was feasible to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using ethanol derived from sugar cane.
This could yield about 433 million litres a year, taking more than half the near-stagnant sugarcane output.
The study, jointly undertaken by the South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, found that if 50% of the country’s 19 million-plus tons of annual sugarcane production was diverted to the production of ethanol, it could lead to an output of about 700 million litres of low-carbon ethanol, which could make 433 million litres of SAF using “alcohol-to-jet” fuel refineries.
Thomas Funke, the chief executive of SA Canegrowers, said local farmers have had to sell their sugar to an oversupplied global market, often at a loss, as a result of cheap sugar imports flooding the country.
“The production of SAF would give South African farmers a better alternative, allowing them to redirect their product to the local SAF market rather than the global sugar market.
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