Australia: Sugar set for ‘Energycane’ Reinvention

Australia: Sugar set for ‘Energycane’ Reinvention
Sugarcane Fields at Shongweni - South Africa (Image: DalinYebo)
Sugarcane Fields at Shongweni – South Africa (Image: DalinYebo)
Gene-editing sugarcane for use in renewable energy and bio-plastics could help secure the industry’s future.

An Australian researcher is conducting gene-editing experiments to tailor sugarcane production to effectively produce bio-fuels and bio-plastics:

Sugarcane’s reinvention as an “energycane” crop could sustain the industry in the face of falling global demand for sugar.

Professor Robert Henry, University of Queensland


“The industry must think beyond just producing sugar, to also producing electricity, bio-fuels for transportation and oils to replace traditional plastics,” he said: “It’s about reinventing sugarcane as a crop with a wider range of end uses, and sugarcane is ideal for renewables because it is fast-growing with abundant biomass.”

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Our Views*/Comments

.. on this article:

  • In South Africa, the sugar industry has been producing a variety of by-products from cane sugar as well as from the fibre (very profitably and for close to 40 years)!
  • Besides sugar, syrup, electricity and ethanol, sugarcane residues are also processed into animal feed, paper, particle board and bio-based chemicals (furfural, furfuryl alcohol, as well as food additives/flavours (Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione).
  • The technologies are well established and commercially available.
  • It is the rather conservative approach by the global sugar industry to stick to making sugar for human consumption.
  • We don’t really need new crops, but entrepreneurs who take the risk of moving (investing!) into biorefining that makes anything but sugar for human consumption.

DalinYebo’s focus is on the development of technology which adds value to the hemicelluloses (or the so called 5-carbon sugars, Pentoses) found e.g in the bagasse of the sugarcane. Over the last 30 years, we have evaluated a variety of feedstock that could be or are used for bio-refining. Sugarcane was just one of them. Improving the properties of the plant may be one aspect of improving sugar yields (per ha). Field and soil management are others. Furthermore, …

… selecting the right bio-refining process technology is most probably the most important aspect of making biobased products (that replace the chemicals currently obtained from oil, coal or gas).

Our expertise: Not producing sugar for human consumption allows for smarter and more economical sugar mill (bio-refining) process designs. We have done that for our µ-Bio-Refinery­™ and GreenEnergyPark™ designs.

Alternative or Complimentary Crops: Sugarcane consumes a lot of water. Will modified plants use less? An attractive alternative is sweet sorghum or a sweet sorghum hybrid developed by researchers for biorefinery applications.


*DalinYebo: Bioeconomy Consultants

Technology . Markets . Knowhow


About Biomass & Furfural

  For owners of biomass we offer technology and market access, creating investment opportunities in the cleantech space. Contact us to discuss the potential your biomass has for the production of furfural.

  Bagasse, Corncobs, Sunflower Husks and more ..

Also refer to the other articles and/or downloads that we published in our series on “biomass for furfural” production that provide our clients with updates and analysis on the fundamentals and competitiveness of a variety of feedstock.

Since 2001, DalinYebo provides knowhow:

  To convert biomass to value added chemical products and applications that are used in industries such as steel, wood, pharmaceutical, automotive, agricultural chemicals, industrial chemicals, etc.

  For the agri (biomass) processing, sugar, pulp&paper, etc. industries, we provide knowhow and technology to convert (residual) biomass to chemicals and energy.

  For owners of biomass we offer technology and market access, creating investment opportunities in the cleantech space.

The essential technical challenge facing us, and the world in general, is the complete beneficiation of cellulosic material. We strive to provide viable and practical solution. Contact us to discuss the economic potential of your biomass.


  •, 11 March 2019 (also appeared on


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