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Department of Chemical Engineering University of Queensland

Report by:

F.H.C. Kelly, A.M.T.C. M.Sc.(Melb). D.Sc.(Tas) F.R.A.C.I.,F.S.N.I.e.,M.I.E.(Aust) Chartered Chemist (Australia), Chartered Engineer (Australia) D.J. Nicklin

Head of Department:

Supporting Body: Queensland Department of Commercial and Industrial Development


We gratefully acknowledge the continuing support of the Queensland Department of Commercial and Industrial Development for this work. November , 1977

Gardens Point A22335040B A f e a s i b i l i t y study of the p r o d u c t i o n of ethanol from sugar cane

i PREFACE For a period now spanning more than ten years, the Queensland Department of Commercial and Industrial Development has sponsored research and feasibility studies within the Department of Chemical Engineering of the University of Queensland. A series of reports has been produced,

each concerned with some aspect of Queensland's Development.

The work has been carried under my broad supervision, generally by research officers. Earlier workers who have produced reports in this

series include Mr. J.G. Job, Dr. P.J. McKeough and Dr. F.K. Mak.

When we accepted the present assignment to write a report on the feasibility of producing ethanol from sugar cane, we had expected to follow much the same procedure used in the past. However, at about

this time, Dr. F.H.C. Kelly visited the Department, and the possibility of a somewhat different approach became clear.

Dr. Kelly is a man with very broad experience in the sugar industry experience in Queensland and overseas and in many aspects of the sugar industry, which would be difficult to match. I invited him to work on

the project for the Department, and the report is attached.

I believe this will be a very useful starting point for consideration of a massive expansion of the Queensland sugar industry to produce ethanol.

Others may prefer to fit alternative numbers to the various relationships outlined or even to modify some of the relationships. If we have

provided a useful base from which to consider the alternatives, and if we have caused others to think about better alternatives, I believe we will have achieved our goal. D.J. Nicklin 9.11.77

ii SUMMARY 1. A comprehensive study has been made of factors related to the production of ethanol from sugar cane and problems related to its use in internal combustion engines. 2. All ethanol costs are "ex-distillery" estimates.

Cost estimates calculated for 25 sets of conditions range from 27 to 8c/l, summarised in Table A and illustrated graphically in figure 4 with 12 relevant parameters.


Preliminary experiments with juice are deemed necessary at estimated R.6D. cost of $100,000.


Highest costs are for distilleries associated with the present Queensland sugar industry.


It is considered unwise to tamper in any way with the structure of the present sugar industry for the purpose of obtaining low cost ethanol.


Full advantage should be taken of experience in growing sugar cane, control of pests and diseases and of extracting juice.


If the sugar industry should wish to divert cane to ethanol production in the event of failure of the export market this should be considered only as a short term palliative.


Sugar cane grown in new areas specifically for ethanol would appear to have good prospects for lower cost development if_ a new social and economic structure suited to its own needs can be developed.


The social changes would include 7 days/week of operation for 39 weeks/year for which 12 month employment conditions could be negotiated to cover agricultural as well as processing areas. A suitable agreement with unions

would be a necessary preliminary determination. 10. An Industrial Alcohol Energy Authority should be established to oversee the development and operation of the new industry with representation from government and unions as well as producer and consumer groups. 11. Economic changes would include full mechanization of all agricultural activities with programmed maintenance and 24 hr/day - 7 day/week operation. This is not compatible with small farm units and the cost advantages of 1600 ha properties or 35,000 ha estates have been examined.

iii 12. Absolute costs are very difficult to estimate but the relativity of costs is believed to be satisfactorily indicative. Cost evaluations have been

broken down to 12 main units and numerous sub-units providing a stability to the cost structure. Thus for the lowest costing route at 8C/1 the

capital cost of the processing plant represents the highest cost component at 26%. 13. A 50% error in this figure would alter the overall cost by 1c/1.

Association with the present sugar industry could enable about 400 Ml/annum to be produced at around 25.5C/1 with one distillery in each of the four districts and using also all of the molasses produced from all of the mills. Any increase beyond this could only result in a higher price for ethanol produced within the structure of the present sugar industry.


Recent experiments in Brazil have indicated that ethanol can develop 18% more power per litre than petrol but 15 to 20% more volume is used. compression ratio of 10:1 is needed to achieve these results. A

The Fiat

motor company in Brazil is prepared to make appropriate engine changes. 15. Logistic constrictions on the rate of development of a new industry in Australia would mean initially blends with petrol in areas close to production progressively extending through Australia. A 7 to 10% limit

is advised in high humidity areas (e.g. Queensland tropical wet season) but up to 15% would probably be safe in low humidity areas. 16. Australia's present consumption of petrol of around 14Gl/year would require seven Queensland sugar industry (QSI) units to supply the whole amount as ethanol if only juice from stalk cane is processed. 17. If cellulose from fibre is hydrolyzed and fermented with 50% recovery and whole cane (including tops and leaves) is processed only 4QSI units would be needed. 18. A great deal of information is known about cellulose hydrolysis but not with respect to sugar cane fibre. A research and development

investment of $2m specifically directed towards this objective is commended. 19. District area units of 35,000 ha or 0.1 QSI units are commended for new area development, subject to qualifications relevant to item 15 table A.

iv 20. Capital costs for each new area are estimated to total approximately $350m or $3,500m/QSI unit. Carrying present knowledge of cellulose hydrolysis to a viable stage for $2m could make the difference between a capital investment of $23,500m or $13,500 m i.e. $10,000m. be justified. 21. The average productivity in Te sugar/ha - season of the present QSI is the best in the world, but Te cane/ha - season are only about 40% of local well demonstrated achievable figures. is at the rate of 1.1 to 1.6% per year. 22. If actual average productivity could be increased to 80% of achievable limit by wider application of already well known agricultural practices this would double unit area ethanol production and reduce the number of QSI units required to 2 or 3.5 depending on whether cellulose is processed or not. 23. An establishment R.S D. investment of $llm is considered necessary for such an achievement to be realised. 2*+. Since larger water supplies for irrigation would be required as well as larger or more numerous processing plants the total capital investment per QSI unit would be nearer $4,500m. The outcome of the $llm. R.D. Evolutionary improvement A R. & D. investment of $20m could well

investment would determine the real need or otherwise of capital expenditure of $13,500m or $8,700m - again an investment that would be well justified if it cost 10 times as much. 25. An establishment R.SD. investment of $3m is commended for developing the requirements for optimum agricultural operations other than those specifically relating to area productivity. This would have only

marginal influence on capital expenditure but would relate to a difference in the price of ethanol of 5-8C/1 or $7-11,200m per year. The initial gross benefit would be very much less but the manner in which a new area development may be initiated will have long term price influences.


The possibility of growing cassava as a fallow rotation crop has been examined. It would seem to have little influence on the estimated

cost of ethanol but would increase area productivity by about 10(3)%. 27. If cellulose hydrolysis is practised it may be done either with or without using coal as fuel. The estimated productivity and cost

differences are marginal but more capital is required for the ethanol plant if coal is not burned. The pro-rate capital investment for the

coal plant and transport is probably about half of that required at the ethanol plant. 28. If coal is used total consumption would be up to 4.3MTe per 14G1 of ethanol or 3256 litres of ethanol per tonne of coal. On the other hand

the use of this tonne of coal has enabled only 1333 1 of extra ethanol to be produced which is still favourable when compared to 300 1 of petrol possible from the same tonne of coal by hydrogenation. Producing ethanol from sugar cane by the routes described may represent a net gain of energy varying between 10% and 64% according to the constrictions applied. 29. The energy input for full mechanization of farming procedures is estimated at about 1% of ethanol output. 30. Up to 90% of fertilizer requirements are expected to come from recycled evaporated distillery slops. When coal is burned about 74% of the

heat from this source is needed for slops evaporation if looked on as a marginal effort. A very costly fertilizer - but convenient. On

the other hand when processing from stalk cane juice the fuel required is readily available from surplus bagasse and two disposals are satisfactorily handled. 31. A R. & D. investment to study the thermal balance of the distillery could conceivably reduce coal consumption by up to 50% and make the non-coal route more attractive. The possibility of recycling slops to the An investment of $lm could

hydrolysis heap needs investigation.

ultimately be worth $100m/year but much less initially and not critically important until perhaps 1990.

vi 32. A levy of at least 1% and preferably 2% of the value of the product is commended for R. & D. as a continuing investment. 33. A system of indexed amortization has been suggested to enable development capital to be serviced at currently realistic rates of interest. 34. Employment prospects are envisaged at 10,000 to 20,000 persons/14Gl year directly concerned in field and factory, generating supporting employment 3 times this number. A similar number is envisaged as being Each district would have a

employed during development stages.

community of 6000 located in 3 sub-communities - one of 3000 and two of 1500. These numbers relate to 1600ha property or 35,000ha estate For 50ha farms an overall community of a million people


is indicated and believed to be too large a proportion of the nation's manpower resources for a single product investment. 35. The possibility of applying space-age technology through remote control has been examined and seems feasible with known technology. Complete

control could be effected from the Brisbane area reducing the need for remote living to 1500 persons per district for maintenance and operator-assisted duties.



LAND 1 AREA QSI UNITS Dual production with raw sugar, from stalk cane plus molasses from surrounding district mills. Restricted to one unit per district. Table VI Sole product from stalk cane at an existing mill plus molasses from district. Restricted to one unit per district. Table IX Mew area developed, Stalk juice. Social change to 7 day-week, 39 week season3 annual employment on farm as well as factory. 50ha farms. Table XVIII. no extra



R. S D.





(a) to process juice (b) thermal balance


no extra

28 2 5

As for 1.

[ 3.





concept dev.3 save 3C/1. = $420m/year..


As for 3 - 1600 ha properties. Table XVIII As for 3 - 35,000 ha estates Table XVIII





extra capital $1750m. cf.3, save 8.5cyi = $1200m/year extra capital $3000m. cf.3, save 9.5c/l = $1330m/year







As for 3 - whole cane processing including cellulose - 50 ha farms Table XIX



1 13,000

0.22 3.0

cellulose hydrolysis. concept dev. save capital $10,500m. cf.3 & 8.4c/1 = $1176m/year

As for 6 - 1600 ha properties. Table XIX




0,2 3.5

cellulose hydrolysis. concept dev. extra capital $500m cf.6. save 4.54/1 = $630m/year


As for 6 - 35,000 ha estates Table XIX




0.2 4.0

cellulose hydrolysis, concept dev. extra capital $ save 54/1 $700m/year


As for 3 - plus cassava fallow crop. 50 ha farms. Table XXI





concept dev. save capital $4500m cf. 3. and 24/1 = $280m/ year


As for 9 - 1600 ha properties Table XXI



20 3 300


concept dev. extra capital $1300m,cf.9. save 6.84/1 = $950m/year


As for 9 - 35,000 ha estates Table XXI





concept dev, extra capital $ save 7.9c/1 = $1100m/year


As for 6 - plus cassava fallow crop, 50ha farms. Table XXII




0.2 3.5

cellulose hydrolysis concept dev. save capital $1000m.of.6.extra 0.2c/1 = $28m/year


As for 12 - 1600 ha properties Table XXII




0.2 4.0

cellulose hydrolysis concept dev. extra capital $ 0.54/1 = $70m/year

14. As for 12 - 35,000 ha estates

Table XXII




0.2 4.5

cellulose hydrolysis, concept development. save capital $750m. cf.8.extra .5c/l - $70m/year

15. As for 6 - but with agricultural

productivity doubled. 50 ha farms Table XXIII




0.2 11.0

cellulose hydrolysis, concept development, save capital $4900 m. of.6. save 4.1c/1 = $570m/year

16. As for 15 - 1600 ha properties

Social advantages over 17. Save capital of $15,400m, cf. 3, Save 15.6*/1 = $2180m/year cf.3. Table XXIII





0.2 11.0 :

cellulose hydrolysis, concept development, save capital $4800 in. cf.7. save 2.7/l = $378m/year


As for 15 - 35,000 ha estates Table XXIII




0.2 12.0

cellulose hydrolysisconcept development, save capital $5250m, o f . 8 , save 2.6C/1 = $360m/year

18. As for 12 - but with portion of bagasse

as fuel and no coal. Table XXIV, 50 ha farms.




0.3 5.0

cellulose hydrolysis. concept development. extra capital $2000m, cf.12. save 3.4C/1 = $476m/year

19. As for 18 - 1600 ha properties

Table XXIV




0.3 5.5

cellulose hydrolysis, concept development, extra capital $1700m. cf. 13. save 2.0C/1 = $280m/year

20. As for 17 but with space-age technology
with remote control. Table XXV.



9200 5.0

As for 17 plus space-age technology development extra capital = $200m,cf.17. save 0.5C/1 = $70m/year. save remote location of 90,000 persons



1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

To produce 14Gl/year of ethanol. Essential for development of entire concept. Initial investment only.

30% of all concept development costs to process studies, 60% to agricultural studies. Total production achievable at this price range = 200Ml/year Total production achievable at this price range = 400Ml/year,


FIGURE 1 Simplified flow sheet for dual production of sugar and ethanol 2 Simplified flow sheet for producing ethanol from juice of sugar cane 3 Simplified flow sheet for whole cane processing with cellulose hydrolysis 4 Relationship between estimated price of ethanol as related to the size of the farm unit.

Total steam 603 Figure Is Simplified flow sheet for dual production of sugar and ethanol.

CONTENTS Preface Summary Flow Sheets and Graph Introduction Alternative fuels and their sources The fermentation process Agricultural considerations Sugar cane for ethanol production Technology studies Basic fundamental information Dual purpose factory Effect of varying proportion of products Locality for dual product operation Dual product plant with molasses supplement Single purpose ethanol-sugar cane plant The precision of pricing procedures The price of sugar and the price of oil Ethanol from sugar cane in a new growing area Location of a new sugar cane/ethanol complex Seasonal considerations Sunshine requirements for growing sugar cane Water requirements for growing sugar cane Fertilizer needs in sugar cane culture Unit operations in sugar cane agriculture Size of a sugar cane farm New land development Capital repayment alternatives Methods of calculation for Table XIV Estimated cost of mechanical component of farm unit operations Irrigation application Harvesting of sugar cane Fuel Costs Transportation of sugar cane Factory equipment Computer control factors Farm equipment maintenance Management of agricultural operations Agricultural extension services Productivity development on existing farm areas The cellulose component of sugar cane Cassava as a fallow crop Effect of farm productivity on cost of ethanol Coal as energy supplement Carbon dioxide production Fusel oil production Denaturing of ethanol Ethanol storage The environmental impact of a large scale sugar cane/ ethanol industry Ethanol and the internal combustion engine Application of ethanol as a motor fuel Development options Predicting the future Overall employment and income prospects Application of space-age technology Energy balance Estimates of future Queensland and Australian requirements Related relevant literature



1 6 15 19 23 32 38 39 55 55 59 64 76 78 88 90 92 95 99 105 110 112 117 119 122 125 128 129 134 135 138 142 143 144 147 150 154 162 169 173 175 177 178 181 182 185 188 196 198 204 208 213 216 218

TABLES A I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV Summary of estimated costs of ethanol production Net Thermal Values of Selected Fuels Dual product plant without additional molasses - raw material costs Dual product plant without additional molasses - total costs Queensland mill size and land productivity criteria Dual product plant with additional molasses. Raw material costs Dual product plant with total estimated costs of ethanol Single product plant to produce ethanol without additional molasses Single product plant to produce ethanol plus additional molasses (raw material costs) Single Product Plant with total estimated costs of ethanol production Summary of estimated costs of ethanol production primary options Total ethanol potential for an 817,000 Te cane complex Effect of doubling the size of a sugar mill on ethanol cost Estimate of photosynthetic efficiency of sugar cane in Queensland Tabulated indexed capital repayment rates Effect of size of field on cost of tractor usage Cost estimates for cane grown on large properties or estates Estimated costs of road transport for sugar cane Estimated cost of processing sugar cane stalk juice for ethanol Estimated cost of ethanol from whole cane including cellulose hydrolysis Cost estimates for growing cassava for ethanol Estimated cost of producing ethanol from sugar cane stalk juice and cassava Estimated cost of producing ethanol from whole sugar cane plus cassava Estimated costs of producing ethanol from whole cane but with 80% achievable productivity. Coal as fuel. As for XXIII but no coal as fuel

Page vii 11 53 54 60 62 63 67 68 69 70 71 75 97 123-: 126 129 137 14-1 161 166 167 168 171 176

1 INTRODUCTION Producing alcohol by the fermentation of plant sugars is probably one of man's oldest technologies but until the development of distillation as a means of concentration its use was restricted to such applications as were suited to the relatively low concentrations it was possible to achieve in this way.

Although) a distillation technique was described as early as Aristotle in the 4th century B.C. it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that its application to alcohol concentration became significant. By the end of that century it had been developed to such a degree that the fermentation and distillation of potatoes in Germany supplied substantial quantities of alcohol for industrial purposes.

The word alcohol is of generic significance when used in organic chemistry but in the current context the only alcohol with which we will be closely concerned is ethanol (C.H OH) although some reference to other alcohols will be made at appropriate stages.

Ethanol is the major product of alcoholic fermentations but small quantities of amyl alcohols (d- and/or iso-) as well as some butyl and propyl may also be produced and are generally referred to as fusel oil. The amount varies between about 0.1 and 0.7% and may also include trace amounts of fatty acids, esters, furfural and other substances.

Ethanol is the most important of the many products which can be produced by fermentation for industrial purposes. The basic raw material

for this is the sugar glucose but this in turn is usually derived from the breakdown of a higher molecular weight entity such as sucrose, starch or cellulose. The relative importance of these as raw material will be

2 considered. There are a number of reasons for giving primary Suffice

consideration to sugar cane which will be given later.

it for the time being to say that there is already a well established sugar cane growing community in Australia and the agro-technology is well understood. Sugar cane is known to be one of the best plants for

efficiently utilizing sunshine in the synthesis of carbohydrate and it grows well under a wide range of soil and climatic conditions with appropriate cultural techniques. In fact Australia leads the world in

the annual rate of production of sugar in cane per unit of area under cultivation.

Ever since the internal combustion engine was invented, the possibility of using ethanol as a fuel or partial fuel has been considered and very detailed study went into the subject during the latter part of the 19th and earlier part of the 20th century. The net conclusions have

been that it can be used successfully under a wide range of conditions without significant modification being required for the engine as marketed during the 1970's. There have been periods when certain countries have

made quite significant use of ethanol for internal combustion engines and this includes Australia during the 1930's and 1940's. Special circumstances Brazil

have had their influence and these will be discussed later.

currently is an important user and is developing this capability rapidly.

Ethanol is a fuel which can be continuously regenerated as long as there is sufficient land available for cultivation.

For some years the Halthusian predictions of population growth outstripping available food supplies and apparently abundant mineral supplies of liquid fuels militated against serious consideration being given to wide scale growth of plant materials for industrial energy. These are no

3 longer the spectre painted in the 1950's. Population growth now

appears to be most closely related to the economic advantages or disadvantages of a large family. As long as there are economic

advantages, as in a labour intensive agricultural economy, population growth is for all practical purposes, uncontrollable. With the

development of machine intensive cultivation techniques, the disadvantages of a large family unit become apparent and slowly the rate of population growth slows to controllable figures. The supply of

food is also related very strongly to the efficiency of harvesting and storage techniques as well as to distribution facilities. The net

result is that with the exception of local conditions of drought or flood the world in fact does have a surplus of food and there are good reasons for believing that the situation will continue for the forseeable future.

Ho person likes radical changes in their way of life, and a sudden change from a petrol based liquid fuel economy to an entirely ethanol based economy would be fraught with many problems. Fortunately this

should not be necessary in Australia and it could be introduced progressively to replace imported petroleum fuel as it blends very well with petrol in proportions which would be adequate to effect this change with minimum of frustration and provide an extensive and well needed development of employment in Australia involving a wide range of skills.

Ehhanol is a lesser fire hazard than petrol in storage and transport situations. On the other hand it does have its own specific problems

such as unsocial results in human consumption and its miscibility with water. There are ways and means of dealing . with these problems and

they will be discussed.

The environmental impact of large scale development would be expected to be most prominent in two areas. Firstly the substantial extension of

cultivated land and new housing development, possibly but not necessarily at the expense of forest land. Secondly there would be the problems of The installations would On the

waste disposal from the fermentation process.

need to incorporate equipment and procedures to cope with this.

other hand ethanol can effectively displace alkyl-lead additives commonly employed for increasing the anti-knock rating of petrol and which pollute the atmosphere by their presence in exhaust gases. Internal combustion

engines operate at lower temperatures and run more quietly when ethanol is used as a petrol additive. As a complete replacement for petrol

there are more problems including a significantly lower thermal value, but when used in minor additive proportions there is no noticeable increase in volumetric consumption, nor are changes required in the tuning of the engine of significance.

These matters will each be considered in detail at an appropriate stage.

When considering alternative energy sources it is thought to be impracticable to attempt to displace all currently used types of mineral based energy with a single type of energy derived in one way from a solar source. This study will confine itself to problems involved in the

progressive development of liquid fuel derived from nature's solar cellchlorophyll through the intermediate natural synthesis and storage of carbohydrate in sugar cane.

Reasons for the selection will be elaborated during the course of this study.

Two questions of major concern become significant - (1) can ethanol be produced at a satisfactory price and in substantial volume and (2) can ethanol be used effectively as a major liquid fuel? The two

5 questions revolve around each other and both must be answered effectively, but it is largely a matter of choice as to which is discussed in detail first. In this study the choice has been made firstly to study production

and secondly consumption, but always being cognisant of interactions and side effects.

6 ALTERNATIVE FUELS AND THEIR SOURCES The internal combustion (I.C.) engine has become such a widely used device in present day living that it is almost inconceivable to imagine alternatives achieving more than marginal significance. These engines

have been developed to employ fuels in either the gas or liquid phase, endeavours to employ powdered solid phase fuels or mixtures of solid and liquid phases have not been successful due mainly to problems concerned with the exhausting of ash constituents of solid fuels.

Only a very small proportion of I.C. engines employ gaseous fuels. Whilst they do enjoy many advantages including a continuing supply of fuel in the event of a development of a hydrogen based energy economy, the major disadvantage is the difficulty experienced in developing satisfactory storage techniques especially for small mobile units such as the motor car. From time to time there have been developments in

the use of producer gas units including their attachment to mobile vehicles. It is not proposed to consider these more than marginally

in the present study.

For our purposes we will consider the development of the I.C. engine along two main lines to which we will apply simply the terms and "petrol
1 ::


engines and in this context, the terms will be used

essentially to define the method of ignition - the diesel engine relying on pressure ignition and the petrol engine relying on spark ignition. There is an interaction of these two mechanisms as the compression ratio of internal combustion engines is increased and the implications of this will be shown to be important. The development of the diesel engine

was dependent very largely upon the successful development of fuel injection to specific cylinders under pressure. On the other hand, the

carburettor system of the petrol engine has become progressively more complex and there has been a marginal but growing encroachment of direct

6 ALTERNATIVE FUELS AND THEIR SOURCES The internal combustion (I.C.) engine has become such a widely used device in present day living that it is almost inconceivable to imagine alternatives achieving more than marginal significance. These engines

have been developed to employ fuels in either the gas or liquid phase, endeavours to employ powdered solid phase fuels or mixtures of solid and liquid phases have not been successful due mainly to problems concerned with the exhausting of ash constituents of solid fuels.

Only a very small proportion of I.C. engines employ gaseous fuels. Whilst they do enjoy many advantages including a continuing supply of fuel in the event of a development of a hydrogen based energy economy, the major disadvantage is the difficulty experienced in developing satisfactory storage techniques especially for small mobile units such as the motor car. From time to time there have been developments in

the use of producer gas units including their attachment to mobile vehicles. It is not proposed to consider these more than marginally

in the present study.

For our purposes we will consider the development of the I.C. engine along two main lines to which we will apply simply the terms and
!i T;



engines and in this context, the terms will be used

essentially to define the method of ignition - the diesel engine relying on pressure ignition and the petrol engine relying on spark ignition. There is an interaction of these two mechanisms as the compression ratio of internal combustion engines is increased and the implications of this will be shown to be important. The development of the diesel engine

was dependent very largely upon the successful development of fuel injection to specific cylinders under pressure. On the other hand, the

carburettor system of the petrol engine has become progressively more complex and there has been a marginal but growing encroachment of direct

7 fuel injection into the petrol engine field.

The diesel engine is designed essentially to operate on low volatility liquid fuels whereas the petrol engine and high volatility fuels are largely designed for each other. In the competitive area

of society as distinct from controlled economics there is usually a substantial cost advantage in using low volatility liquid fuel. has been largely accentuated by the tax structure which has been developed with progressively increasing intensity on volatile liquid fuels. This

For the present considerations it is necessary to eliminate as far as possible the incidence of tax on fuels for a true comparison of their relative usefulness as energy sources, but at the same time, recognise that taxation in some form or another is inevitable.

Ethanol can effectively displace either diesel or petrol type fuels, but initially it will be considered as a partial substitute for petrol type fuels with cognisance being taken of the likely results of progressively increasing the proportion in petrol type fuels as well as of progressive displacement of diesel fuels as well as petrol.

For ethanol to become a commodity generally available to the public it becomes of major importance for its use to be restricted to that of a motor fuel or related industrial applications and not be readily converted to human consumption. There are two reasons for the latter requirement,

one involves the unsocial side effects, the other relates to the loss of revenue imposed more heavily on alcoholic drinks of all types than on motor fuels. The measures taken to effect desired control in this area While this will be discussed in

are known as denaturing of alcohol.

some detail later, it is well to point out at this stage that the selection of a suitable denaturant is one of the most important and at

8 the same time one of the most difficult of the problems which relate to the production and widespread use of ethanol as a liquid fuel.

Whilst primary consideration is given to ethanol as a liquid fuel it is recognised that numerous other alternatives have been proposed from time to time, as either a partial or complete substitute for use in either petrol or diesel engines.

Hydrogen is the simplest possible substitute when considered from the point of view of chemical structure. It is a gas at atmospheric

conditions of temperature and pressure and is difficult to liquify requiring high pressures for appropriate compression. Some attention

has been given in global planning to the prospect of developing a fuel economy entirely based on hydrogen, which in turn can be a product of solar energy. The most commonly studied route being the generation of

electricity with solar cells and the employment of this electricity to decompose water into its elements - hydrogen and oxygen.

There are still so many problems related to the economic development of electricity in this sequence that a fuel economy based entirely on solar-hydrogen is believed to be still many years ahead. Also hydrogen

is of very low specific gravity and this reduces it to the status of a second grade gaseous fuel.

Vlhen considering relative thermal values of fuels employed in internal combustion engines the net value is of more significance than the gross value since the latter includes the latent heat of condensation contained in the water vapour of the products of combustion and condensation does not take place in these fuel cycles.

Hydrogen gas is rated at 10.8 MJ/m3 at S.T.P. compared with 35.7 for methane. On a weight basis however, this would represent

120 kJ/g as compared with 43.7 for petrol.

Methane (CR4) as the most important constituent of natural gas or produced by anaerobic fermentation is also difficult to liquefy and currently of no real practical significance as a possible alternative to petrol.

Methanol (CH3OH) is one of the most important products of highpressure organic syntheses used today, reacting carbon monoxide with hydrogen produced as synthesis gas by the reforming of natural gas. As natural gas is currently available in relative abundance in Australia, the possibility of converting it to methanol as a liquid fuel supply must be given significant credence.

Methanol can be used as a fuel for I.C. engines but it is not a particularly good fuel having a nett thermal value (N.T.V.) of 20kJ/g or 48% of that of petrol with ethanol at 27 or 63% of the value of petrol on a V/V basis. Methanol is more volatile than ethanol which should

favour easier starting but the lower latent heat of vapourization is less advantageous from the point of view of thermal efficiency.

Methanol has been important in the marketing of non-potable ethanol by virtue of its usefulness as a denaturant. The classical denaturing

fluid has been "wood spirit" or "wood naptha" which used to be a product of the distillation of wood. It is not a chemically pure material but

is considered to be about the nearest approach to a perfect denaturant for ordinary purposes.

There may well be merit in blending up to 10% of methanol with ethanol to be used for motor spirit but this will be discussed in more detail later.

Diethyl ether [(C 2 H 5 ) 2 0] can be produced in a relatively straightforward manner from ethanol by dehydration with sulphuric acid. It is

not a particularly strong competitor for ethanol as a straight motor spirit although it does have a thermal value about 14% higher on V/V basis. It is too volatile - boiling point 34.6 - to be useful alone, but when blended with ethanol it is beneficial in improving starting characteristics. Up to 40% has been used in Natal (S.A.) blended with 60% ethanol and known as "Natalite". When converting ethanol to ether there is a loss of 37.5% on a volume basis offset by an associated gain of 20% in thermal value.

Acetone (CH3.C0.CH3) is intermediate between ether and ethanol in terms of volatility (B.P.56.5) and with a N.T.V. of 28.5 kJ/g or 23 MJ/litre is 69% of petrol (V/V).

Ethanol by way of comparison has a B.P. of 78.5 26.8 kJ/g or 21 MJ/litre.

and a N.T.V. of

Although acetone can be produced by chemical synthesis it is also a product of fermentation using Clostridium genus bacteria. Unfortunately, acetone is normally produced in association with butanol by this process, a typical product being 60% butanol, 30% acetone and 10% ethanol. The butanol is of little value as a motor spirit because

of its low volatility (B.P. 117.7).

The net thermal values for a range of gaseous and liquid fuels are listed in Table I. Whilst the N.T.V. of a fuel is by no means the only

criterion for selection it is an important one in -the screening

11 procedure. Three gases are included in the table - hydrogen, methane A major problem in each case is that of liquefaction It can

and acetylene.

for the purpose of compressing it into a reasonable volume.

be seen that hydrogen even when liquified by compression has a very low volumetric thermal value and combining this with the heavy weight of cylinders required for storage it becomes a quite uneconomical fuel for most I.C. engines.

Acetylene cannot be used in the simple compressed form owing to its unfavourable explosive characteristics but may be compressed into a solution of acetone. the However, this is not an important possibility in

current context and will receive no further consideration.


Whilst the N.T.V. is a useful primary criterion for evaluating a fuel for an I.C. engine it is by no means the only one and this will be discussed in more detail with respect to ethanol at a later stage in this report.

12 The history of ethanol production has seen several important changes related to developments which have taken place in technology.

It was in the latter part of the 19th century that ethanol first became available on a large enough scale to justify classifying it as an important industrial chemical. This industry was based on carbohydrate

fermentation but the product invariably contained 5% of water because of the ethanol - water binary constant boiling point mixture which could not be economically separated by then known techniques of distillation. For special purposes anhydrous ethanol could be made by preferential reaction with a dehydrating agent such as lime or anhydrous calcium sulphate but was very expensive.

During the first two decades of the twentieth century various modifications of this technique were developed (although the first patent for the use of CaO goes back to 1842) and incorporated in the distillation technique to be removed with the water either at the bottom or at the top of the column depending upon the relative volatility of the additive as compared with ethanol.

Initially dehydration was very costly and only carried out for special laboratory requirements. It was economically unthinkable even

to contemplate the possibility of anhydrous ethanol becoming an important industrial commodity.

A radical change developed with the ultimate development of the technique of introducing a third component to the distillation column which would form a ternary C.B.M. (ethanol-water-benzene) and which would separate into two liquid phases on condensation allowing a continuous recirculation of the additive. This was perfected to the stage at which

the cost of anhydrous ethanol was very little higher than the 95% aqueous azeotrope.

13 Another development in the production of anhydrous ethanol has been for a process to handle directly a fermentation mash at 6% ethanol making use of an extractive distillation technique.

The development of these techniques had, however, only a marginal influence on the employment of ethanol as a motor fuel since 95% aqueous ethanol can be used quite readily as a mild blend with petrol with no significant influence from the water. It can also be used directly or

as a methanol-denatured spirit, in fact as much as 50% of water can be tolerated in a spark ignition I.C. engine provided a more volatile fuel is employed for starting. value of the fuel pro rata. The water does of course reduce the thermal

During the 1940's the production of ethanol as a petrochemical began to become important with a progressive phasing out of the fermentation product and synthetic ethanol dominated the ethanol market until the recent substantial use in the price of crude oil.

Synthetic ethanol may be produced either from acetylene originating from calcium carbide or from ethylene available from processing crude oil. The acetylene route only enjoyed a relatively short period of

serious interest once the price of natural gas and crude oil fell with the extensive discovery and development of resources since the second world war. The conversion of ethylene into ethanol is a relatively

straightforward chemical procedure involving for example firstly sulphonation with strong sulphuric acid followed by hydrolysis and reconcentration of the liberated sulphuric acid. Alternatively, a more straightforward vapour phase hydration

may be effected in the presence of phosphoric acid at a temperature of 300 and pressure of 70 kilopascals.

14 Certain countries have continued to provide incentives for the production of fermentation ethanol to encourage home industry and reduce dependence on overseas energy supplies although generally the latter effect has been largely marginal.

Since the rapid rise of the international price of crude oil there has been a resurgence of interest in raw materials suited to fermentation procedures. Future market situations will be influenced by relative

costs of raw materials, costs involved in processing techniques and the development of technology related to the use of ethanol or its competitors. hazardous. The combination of these factors makes forecasting Venturing into forecasting will be deferred until later

until a more detailed study has been made of factors involved in the production and use of fermentation ethanol.

15 THE FERMENTATION PROCESS Ethanol produced by fermentation originates mainly from the monosaccharide glucose (or dextrose) although its close relative fructose (or levulose) ferments with equal facility. Mannose is also

a natural sugar which is fermentable but is not of industrial significance. Galactose which is met with among the hydrolysis

products of many plant tissues is only fermented with difficulty. Neither glucose nor fructose are sufficiently prominent in nature to be important in themselves as raw materials but are produced from the hydrolysis of more abundant carbohydrates.

On the other hand nature builds up complex carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water with the aid of sunlight with glucose and fructose appearing fairly early in the synthesis chain. Whilst much attention

has been given to the development of plants of elementary or single cell structure the stage has not been reached where these might be given serious consideration as viable sources of raw material in competition with more complex plant products.

There are three materials made by nature and which are currently of significant importance as raw materials for fermentation industries. These are cellulose, starch and sucrose. Both cellulose and starch

are hydrolyzable to glucose whereas the hydrolysis product of sucrose is a 50-50 mixture of glucose and fructose. None of these three materials

is directly fermentable itself and nature has not developed a useful storage system for glucose or fructose.

Cellulose functions essentially as part of the fibrous structure of plants as a polymer of glucose units and similar in chemical composition (C6H10O5)n.

16 Associated with cellulose in the fibres of plants are significant amounts of pentosans which are polymers of pentose sugars (C5H10O5)n and

of lignin which is of slightly variable composition and of very complex and variable chemical structure. There are also smaller quantities of

specialised substances such as resins which are developed in specific types of plants.

The only material in this complex group of cellular substances which is reasonably amenable to fermentation is the cellulose which must first be hydrolysed to glucose. This seldom constitutes more than 50%

of the fibrous components of plants and not unusually as low as 40%.

Pentosans can be hydrolysed to pentose sugars and these are amenable to a small amount of fermentation but except under special circumstances they are more of an impediment than a benefit to the use of cellulosic plant materials for the production of ethenol by fermentation.

The lignin component is even more untractable from the fermentation point of view and a waste product difficult to handle from the point of view of a polluting effluent.

Starch is a food for both plant and animal and is stored in the plant in a seed or tuber and to a lesser extent it often occurs in stalks and leaves but usually en route to the storehouse. Hydrolysis of starch is

much more easily effected than of cellulose producing a readily fermentable glocose solution. Whereas cellulose is usually hydrolysed with the aid of

mineral acid and high temperature - commonly with high pressure steam, starch may be hydrolysed with very much milder conditions and at higher reaction rates.

17 The plant enzyme - diastase is preferred when the fermentation product is to be a potable alcohol. Diastase is an amylase enzyme

which hydrolyses starch to a mixture of glucose and maltose, the latter being a disaccharide having the same empirical formula as sucrose C12H22O11 and like sucrose is non fermentable itself. It must therefore

be further hydrolysed to two molecules of glucose which is then fermented.

The diastase is usually prepared from a grain of which barley is reported to be the best although sorghum grain is also a useful source in tropical countries. The diastase is developed during germination of

the grain in a process known as malting.

Alternatively, amylase may be produced by using certain moulds of the Aspergillus or Mucor genera.

Starch as it exists in nature is in the form of small grains which usually need rupturing before they can be attacked by amylase. done thermally to produce a gelatinised material. This is

Many different methods have been developed for the ultimate preparation of the carbohydrate to a form fermentable by yeast, which is the organic catalyst employed for the conversion of the glucose to ethanol.

If we start with sucrose as the raw material the hydrolysis step is rather less complex than is the case with either cellulose or starch since we start with a disaccharide. Yeast of the variety Saccharomyces Since this

cerevisiae is commonly preferred for the fermentation step.

contains the enzyme Invertase which is capable of catalysing the hydrolysis of sucrose the yeast is sufficient to effect the double function. However it is often an economic advantage to employ some acid and heat to accelerate the hydrolysis.

18 Whilst sucrose occurs in many plant juices it is most strongly concentrated in the sugar cane or sugar beet.

Alcohol has for many years been produced either in potable form or for industrial purposes from the molasses resulting from production of cane or beet sugar. In the case of beet molasses there may be a Upon hydrolysis

significant amount of the trisaccharide-raffinose.

this yields glucose and the disaccharide melebiose which further hydrolyses to glucose and galactose.

Normally galactose is a difficult sugar to ferment but it may be effected with a bottom fermenting yeast whereas glucose and fructose are satisfactorily fermented with either a top or bottom yeast.

Molasses is commonly a relatively low-priced commodity as there is only limited scope for alternative uses such as fertilizer or animal food. However the amount available is limited by the amount of

associated crystal sugar which is produced and local fermentation for industrial purposes is seldom economically viable from the point of view of actual size of equipment. Transport of molasses adds to the cost

if a central distillery is operated and the time came during the 1950's when even molasses could not compete with crude oil as a raw material for industrial ethanol.

Since the steepening of the price of crude oil in the 1970's there has been a re-awakening of interest in supplies of molasses, especially by the Japanese.

19 AGRICULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS Many agricultural materials have been used at one time or another as a raw material for industrial ethanol production by fermentation and others have been studied.

In the latter half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, Germany encouraged the production of industrial ethanol from potatoes (4/5ths) and grain (l/5th). The industry was not originally

established to find a cheap substitute for petrol, but was one of the consequences of a policy primarily directed towards the extension and improvement of agriculture. Progressively the quantity of production

increased until an overproduction situation developed around the turn of the century. However, the industry suffered heavily as a result of the

1914-18 war and never recovered in the face of developing competition from sulphite pulp, wood and carbide in spite of substantial preliminary subsidies.

Although conditions are very different today there are many lessons which could well be learned from a detailed study of Germany's experience. The growth of the industry was undoubtedly closely related to the agricultural methods and dietetic habits of the people. In 1913 there

were some 6000 distilleries producing 300 Ml of ethanol which represented 80% of Germany's total ethanol production at the time. However, it is

apparent that such success as was achieved was due not so much to an economically costed product as to the effect of State subsidies. The

differential nature of some of these subsidies and taxes also had a significant influence on technology including the development of strong mash fermentation. With an average yield of 16 tonnes per hectare a yield

of 1.4 kl was considered a good figure for potato culture.

20 Of other tuberous crops Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potato and yam could be expected to provide yields of the same order of magnitude. Cassava however could probably more than double this yield to something of the order of 3.5 kl/ha. The starch content of cassava

tubers is much higher than potato and are the source of the tapioca of commerce. Its cultivation is more restricted to tropical locations The soil soon becomes exhausted after Crops of maize, sorghum or legumes are

as it is sensitive to cold.

successive cropping and rotation. not uncommonly grown.

Unfortunately cassava cultivation has not responded particularly well to mechanisation. The tubers are long and spreading and can only be

ploughed out with difficulty, it being necessary to dig them out or pull them by hand. Modern developments have been to breed better rooted

varieties able to be harvested mechanically and these together with improved cultivation techniques have been able to double potential yields of the above-mentioned value to figures over 7 kl/ha.

The yam (Dioscorea) and the sweet potato (Ipomona batotus) are two other tuberous crops which store starch and can be heavy yielding in tropical climatic conditions. They grow best in sandy soils and also

present problems for mechanisation.

Many statistics have been recorded for the yield of agricultural products and many of these can be misleading unless there is appropriate qualification. For example, we may compare average yields on a world

basis but find that the best country yields are at least twice as much as the average and the best area within the best country may yield twice as much as the average for that particular country or more than four times the world average.

21 Another qualification required is the time taken to grow the crop. In most countries sugar cane is an annual crop with a growth Hawaii which records by far the best

cycle averaging about 9 months.

yield may harvest annually, but the growing cycle extends to 2 years. Some other areas have a similarly long growing cycle with suitable local reasons for maintaining production.

Similarly in the sugar beet situation although it is an annual crop, the related sugar mangold can crop more heavily in weight/hectare but with a lower concentration of sugar and is commonly a biennial crop.

Trees which are frequently considered as a source of cellulose for fermentation take a number of years to grow. Alfalfa on the other

hand can be harvested every few weeks for a useful portion of the year.

Certain species of palm trees are sources for the production of a low quality sugar in village communities throughout areas from India to Indo-China. When calculated in terms of sugar yield per hectare per

annum they compare quite favourably with sugar cane grown in those countries. However, sugar cane in those countries is relatively low

yielding and there are substantial harvesting problems with the palms. In sugar palms, sap must be extracted from the florescent zone which is 6 to 15 metres above the ground. On the cultivation side the palm

goes on yielding suitable juice for perhaps 50 years with little cultivation, fertilizing or irrigation and ground level cropping or grazing may be carried on over the same area. The palm does, however,

take about 7 years before it reaches maturity levels of production.

The cultivation of alfalfa to yield both protein and carbohydrate has been suggested with annual yields of up to 63 tonnes of carbohydrate

per hectare suggested as achievable, but the value of an associated 25 tonnes

of vegetable Drotein would in itself be a quite significant factor in costing.

22 It is of some importance to know the nature of the carbohydrate in the plant. If we assume an ethanol recovery in production of

88% of that theoretically obtainable from the carbohydrate, then a yield could be expected of 600 1/tonne for sucrose whereas starch or cellulose would yield 634 and glucose or fructose 570.

Whilst the hydrolysis of sucrose can be expected to be stoichiometric, the efficiency of cellulose hydrolysis is usually very low and often as low as 50% or even 35% with recalcitrant types. A high degree of

saccharification can be achieved with starch and a yield of 634 1/tonne is not unusual. This represents a 5.6% benefit over sucrose and 11%

over glucose or fructose.

Cellulose hydrolysis and fermentation processes of a commercially viable character have been particularly difficult to achieve and there is still a great deal of investigation going on in this field both in Australia and overseas.


After reviewing a wide range of possible plant sources of carbohydrate suitable for ethanol production it is evident that the sugar cane is high on the list. Poor sugar cane may not compare

particularly well with very good alfalfa, cassava or sugar beets, however, Australia stands well to the top of the list in world sugar cane productivity with Hawaii ahead and Ethiopia also reporting very good yields. The latter are no doubt related more to climatic

benefits than cultural expertise.

Furthermore, the sugar cane is recognised as being one of the most efficient users of sunshine in the plant kingdom. Not only does the

sugar cane produce substantial quantities of sugar which it conveniently stores in the stalk, but the fibre in the stalk is additional carbohydrate of a similar magnitude to the sucrose. The fibre could be

a source of cellulose for fermentation, but it has significant value as a fuel and this will also be examined in detail in this analysis. beet, cassava and cereal grains provide nothing in the way of associated fuel and the cost of this commodity required in the ethanol production must be added. Sugar

Sugar cane juice also contains the hexoses glucose and fructose (known collectively in the trade as "reducing sugars") which are useful sources of ethanol but not of crystal sugar. The relative amount of

the hexoses varies according to the season and the quality of the cane. Sugar cane which is poor in terms of sucrose for any reason may contain twice as much hexose as better quality cane. This serves as a

beneficial balancing influence if the sugar cane is thought of in terms of a source of ethanol.

24 Sugar beet juices do not have any significant residual unsynthesized hexose sugars, all soluble carbohydrate being in the form of sucrose unless some deterioration has taken place.

Perhaps the next question to consider is the useful yield which might be expected from an Australian crop of sugar. The pricing system

in the Australian sugar industry has been designed to give financial encouragement to those farmers whose cane is able to produce the highest proportion of crystal sugar. The farmer also recognises the economic These

advantages of heavy yields of the cane itself per unit area.

two desiderata are not necessarily compatible, in fact increases in tonnage of cane often results in lower yields per tonne.

The net result of these two influences is that in Australia over the long term the tonnage of cane per hectare has shown an average annual increase of 1.1% and tonnes of sugar per hectare a corresponding growth rate of 1.58% on a compound interest basis. Throughout the 75 years

over which these figures have been taken, the question has continually been asked as to whether continued improvement could be expected. There have always been fluctuations from year to year and it would be invidious to select any particular year as being representative, and if a ten year period were taken and averaged, the average for the next ten year period would be more predictable and could be expected to be higher by 11 1/2% for tonnage of cane and by 17% on tonnage of sugar.

Furthermore, there is substantial variation from district to district throughout the cane growing areas of Queensland. There is sugar cane

grown in northern N.S.W. but as the sugar produced in those areas represents less than 4% of the total Australian production consideration of ethanol production prospects will be restricted to Queensland although some reference will be made at a later stage to possible areas for development in other parts of Australia.

25 There are further difficulties with statistics. Sugar production This is

is referred to in terms of 94 Net Titre (N.T.) in Australia.

a quality criterion of local concern, designed to estimate the actual amount of refined sugar crystal which can be produced from raw sugar of a certain quality and involves corrections for the ash and hexose content of the raw sugar.

Furthermore sugar contents are referred to in terms of "pol" which is an abbreviation for polarization and refers to the technique universally employed for analysis. It is well known that this does not

reflect the true sucrose content but is a sufficiently close approximation for most purposes to allow full advantage to be taken of the rapidity of the method. We can get an indication of the order of precision of the

pol value if we have an analysis of the final molasses from the same factory at the same time in terms of both pol and sucrose. If we take

as an example a sample of 100 tons of crystal sugar having the following analysis which is typical of Australian conditions:


= 98.37 per cent 0.37 0.38 0.43

Reducing sugar = Ash Moisture = =

The N.T. value then equals Pol - R.S. - (5xAsh) = 96.10 Tonnes of 94 N.T. sugar = tonnes actual sugar x actual N.T. = 102.23. 94 Experience indicates that the actual sucrose content would probably be closer to 98.52 than to the pol value of 90.37. Thus if the figure

for tonnes of 94 N.T. sugar be reduced by 3.8% a better representation of the weight sucrose in crystal raw sugar would be obtained. Actually a

discount of 4% is commonly applied which very closely represents the weight of pol.

26 In actual fact there is no such substance as an abbreviation for the word "polarization

pol r .

The term is

which refers to the technique It is obtained by

commonly employed for analysing sugar house products.

observing the sugar solution with a beam of light which has been optically polarised. The sugar in the solution proportionately affects the degree

of polarization and the instrument is appropriately calibrated.

Unfortunately sucrose is not the only substance in a cane sugar juice or raw sugar solution which affects the polarised light in this way. The two main non-sucrose substances in sugar cane products which act in this way are the hexose sugars glucose and fructose. The fact that they

have an influence opposing each other and which largely compensates has enabled the convenience of the method to be extensively applied in the sugar industry. Under conditions of poor technology, it does not matter

very much but the better the standard of technology the more significant is the difference between the sucrose and pol values. To perform a true

sucrose analysis is difficult, complex and tedious with the consequence that experimental analytical error can be of the same magnitude or even greater than the real difference.

However, it is considered to be valid to take into account the differences between pol and sucrose for the purpose of the current exercise and to apply the correction in accordance with the best experience.

Statistics recorded in Queensland literature for yields of sugar per hectare are in terms of 94 N.T. quality and require appropriate correction.

This however represents only the sugar recovered as crystal.

From the

point of view of ethanol production, we are more concerned with the total sugar content of the juices in the cane since both glucose and fructose can be fermented to ethanol. Unfortunately these are even more difficult

27 to estimate because sugar cane in Australia is evaluated in terms of C.C.S. which letters stand for "Commercial Cane Sugar". The C C S . is

calculated from a formula designed to estimate the actual amount of "94 N.T." sugar which can be produced from a particular tonne of cane. The C C S . is calculated as follows: C.C.S. = Pol in Cane - 1/2 Impurities in Cane Since Impurities in Cane = Brix in Cane - Pol in Cane then C.C.S. = 3/2 Pol in Cane - 1/2 Brix in Cane Like Pol the term Brix does not refer to any substance in particular. It also refers to the result of a convenient analytical technique and approximates the total solids dissolved in the juice or syrup. The

measurement involves a determination of the density of the liquid usually using a type of hydrometer especially calibrated for sugar solutions. In high purity juices and syrups the readings are usually sufficiently accurate for most purposes but in low purity juices and molasses there is a progressive deviation from the true figure as the proportion of nonsucrose increases. Brix may also be measured by means of a refractometer

the values for which are intermediate between the true total dissolved solids and the hydrometric value. The measurement of Brix is not

particularly critical at this stage as far as the ethanol proposal is concerned. The C.C.S. formula was designed also to evaluate the Pol and Brix content of the cane itself from the analysis of the juice expressed by the first roller of the milling tandem. Whilst the technique has distinct

advantages from the point of view of speed and simplicity it does have limitations from the point of view of precision. Present day techniques

prefer to sample the cane rather than the juice and to perform a direct analysis on the sample of cane. The added complexities have very largely

been minimised by the development of better technology for sampling, sample preparation and sample analysis.

28 In the example which has been quoted the C.C.S. for the corresponding cane was 13.11 and the density of cane growth was 84.6 tonnes of cane per hectare. The pol in cane was recorded as 14.41%. If this be corrected to

a sucrose value it would probably have been 14.83 or 2.9% higher than pol. It is estimated from the analysis of juice resulting from the cane that the hexose concentration would have been about 3% of the pol or 0.43% on cane. For the purpose of estimating ethanol production it is convenient Some other workers in

to convert this to "equivalent sucrose" or 0.41%.

this field prefer to convert to "equivalent glucose".

Thus the fermentable sugars "as sucrose" in the cane would be 15.24% and the production per hectare 12.9 tonnes.

If productivity and quality of cane continue to improve at the rate of 1.58% per annum then for the 11 year period 1980/90 a mean value of 15.2 tons per hectare would be indicated as compared with the mean of the 11 year period 1963/73. Predictions for specific years have a lower precision

(St.D. ~ 7.5%) than predictions for a decade (St.D. - 2.5%) owing to variable seasonal influences. There is some levelling out of these influences by

virtue of the north/south relationship of the Queensland sugar belt in that a bad season in one area seldom extends through all the other sugar growing areas and vice versa.

There is a substantial difference between the highest and the lowest yielding areas with the Burdekin as high as 18.7 tons of 94 N.T. per hectare in 1973 as compared with 8.84 for the Mackay and Proserpine areas in the same year.

Traditionally ethanol production in the cane sugar industry has been very largely restricted to the use of molasses as a raw material. There

is no technical reason however, restricting production from the juice itself.

29 This has been widely practised in the beet sugar industry especially in France and Scandinavian countries. If we look at Queensland sugar cane

with 12.9 tonnes/ha of fermentable sucrose equivalent (13.6 as fermentable glucose equivalent) as an ethanol source then the availability should be reduced by about 4.5% to compensate for loss during the mill extraction operation. This would indicate a yield of the order of 7.39 kl/ha on (These figures are equivalent

1973 average figures or 8.71 for 1980/90.

to 660 or 777 imp. gallons per acre for comparison with figures in premetric period reports).

Queensland sugar cane stalks also yield about 11.6 tonnes/ha of fibre which if added to 12.9 or 15.2 would give figures of 24.5 or 26.8 as total carbohydrate yield or perhaps a "round figure" of 25 to 26 tonnes/ha.

Fibre is a mixture of many substances insoluble in hot water and sugar cane fibre has the following approximate composition.

Cellulose Pentosans (Cane Gums) Lignin bodies Waxes Ash Xylan Araban

53 19 4 19 3 2

There are variations within each group, and the chemical specification of a group is itself open to some discussion. However, these are not

of sufficient significance to prevent a discussion of the properties of the fibre using the above distributions as a basis.

30 The fibre appears in the sugar cane factory as "bagasse" which is the residual material from the milling tandem after juice has been extracted. The bagasse contains moisture and residual sugars having

the following approximate average composition:


fibre sugars moisture

50 2.2 47.8

Traditionally it is used as a fuel to generate the steam required for the operation of the factory. It is part of sugar factory technological

design and control to arrange matters of steam consumption and electrical and mechanical power requirements as well as steam generator efficiency so as to be able just to consume the bagasse supply. Operating a tandem of

mills plus a distillery means rather different problems of steam consumption than for the same tandem of mills to operate with the conventional concentration and crystallization operations.

The employment of bagasse as a fuel has made very difficult any attempts to place on it a monetary value. As a fuel the above mentioned bagasse

would have a net thermal value of 8175 kJ/kg which is about half that of wood, a third to a quarter the value of coal and one fifth of that of fuel oil.

All cellulosic materials contain only about 50% of their dry weight as cellulose and are not significantly different from the composition of sugar cane fibre sometimes with resins and fats replacing the waxes. The cellulose is practically the only constituent of the fibrous material which can be converted to carbohydrate which in turn can be fermented to ethanol and even this is difficult with yields not unusually as low as 250 1/tonne representing a recovery of only 30% on theoretical.

31 The pentosans hydrolyse to pentose sugars which are not fermentable by yeast and lignin is also not a raw material for ethanol production.

Attempts have been made to utilise bagasse as a source of ethanol by hydrolysing it with 1.8 to 2.5 of sulphuric acid for 50 minutes at a pressure of 700 to 800 k Pa but results so far have not been encouraging although this situation may change and will be discussed later. For

the time being there would seem to be merit in maximising the energy value of bagasse as a fuel and more detailed consideration will be given to fermentation possibilities at a later stage.

The pentosan xylan can be converted to furfural with moderate simplicity and is probably worth costing for limited development, but would utilize only 19% of the dry matter of the bagasse.


The idea of producing ethanol from sugar cane in Queensland is by no means new. In 1918 the Advisory Council of Science and Industry (Australia)

in Bulletin No. 6 (which was reprinted with an appendix as Bulletin No. 12 in 1921) drew attention to a range of possibilities but no action seems to have eventuated.

The C.S.R. Co. has produced industrial ethanol from molasses at Sarina (Qld.) from cane factory molasses and at Pyrmont (N.S.W. ) from sugar refinery molasses. in Sydney. The 1977 Australian price of bulk ethanol is 27.3/1

During World War II a definite proposition was considered for the production of ethanol from sugar cane juice at a time when export of raw sugar was substantially restricted. get beyond the proposition stage. For a number of reasons it did not At the same time ethanol from molasses Also

was being blended with petrol and retailed as a normal motor fuel.

there was much activity in the construction of distilleries in the Victorian and M.S.W. wheat areas with the object of usefully using a surplus of wheat anticipated as the result of wartime shipping problems. to be completed operated for only a very short time. The first of these

This as well as those

in lesser stages of completion were soon abandoned as by that time the wheat was given higher priority use as a food.

The international oil companies never seem to have been favourably disposed towards ethanol as a supplementary motor fuel and whilst becoming almost the only producers of industrial ethanol have restricted it to the status of an intermediate in the production of other chemicals.

33 This may be seen as very largely related to the pricing policy of the oil companies with ethanol being invariably priced higher than refined petrol, although pricing of petroleum products or petroleum based materials is so extraordinarily complex that it is impossible to be able to make a real comparison on the basis of specific costs. In a

multi-product industry, real costs are not the only factors involved in pricing policies.

The present resurgence in interest for agro-ethanol has resulted from anticipated shortages in available mineral oil supplies and related price escalations.

Industrial ethanol and potable ethanol have for many years been produced from sugar cane molasses and about 40% of the Queensland molasses production is diverted for use in this way in Australia and a similar amount exported of which an unknown proportion is converted to industrial ethanol.

Molasses production in Queensland amounts to about 216 kg/tonne sugar or 28.7 kg/tonne of cane. As the molasses contains about 54% of total

fermentable sugars (as hexoses) this is equivalent in ethanol to only about 8.8 1/tonne cane.

In other countries the sugar cane juice contains less sucrose and a higher proportion of hexoses and non-sugars. As a result the molasses

production may be 2 to 3 times as high per tonne of cane with consequently higher ethanol production potential.

One effect of this is that it was not really economical in Queensland to establish a distillery for the molasses from only one sugar factory. The only distillery which has been established in Queensland to process molasses for industrial ethanol has drawn its supplies from a number of factories using mostly rail transport. The distillery is currently

located at Sarina and is now rated at a capacity of 50 Ml/per annum.

34 The actual amount of molasses required to produce this quantity of ethanol will vary somewhat according to the amount of fermentable sugars it contains.

Total sugars in final molasses when converted to glucose amount to approximately 53% in the Central-Burdekin areas, which on an ethanol recovery of 88% of stoichiometric would mean 3001/tonne. it would require 1679000 tonnes of molasses.. At this recovery

In the 1975 season the

molasses produced in the central district - Mackay area alone was 177,632 tonnes with an additional 88,654 tonnes in the Burdekin district from which some supplies are also drawn.

There are two distilleries in Queensland licensed for the production of potable ethanol which differs in its pricing structure from industrial ethanol.

If central distilleries for industrial ethanol from molasses were located in the Northern, Burdekin and Bundaberg areas and used 90% of the molasses available they would have outputs of the order of 30, 26 and 20M1 (with allowance for current usage for potable ethanol production.

Thus something of the order of 100 Ml might be obtainable from all the available molasses in Queensland. In actual volume it would be equivalent

to about 2 1/2 days of Australia's total petrol consumption or 5 weeks of consumption of a 7% blend.

At current prices of Australian crude oil ( A$2.2/bbl) ethanol would be far from being a commercially viable alternative. However, Australia

has been importing oil to the extent of about one third of her total requirements and this proportion is expected to more than double within ten years. Figures concerning this industry get out of date so quickly that

it is difficult to orient thinking correctly at any particular time.

35 Also it is difficult to determine the amount of petrol which is produced from a barrel of crude oil as it varies according to the quality of the crude and the economics of the oil refineries. According to the

Australian Institute of Petroleum the petrol produced in Australia represents about 40% of the crude oil. It is likely that a higher

proportion is produced from Australian crude as it is rated as a lighter type of material than Middle East oil with a higher proportion of low boiling point fractions.

The annual consumption of petrol as such in Australia is around 14 Gigalitres. It is customary to regard ethanol as being of less thermal

value than petrol and to compare the two in terms of net thermal value which are in the ratio of 3:2 (petrol:ethanol). There is however, doubt This will

about the validity of this as there are compensating factors.

be discussed in more detail later in this report and for the time being, volumes will be considered as equivalent.

For a Queensland sugar industry production of 20 million tonnes of cane capable of yielding 92 1 of ethanol per tonne of cane this would require 7.6 Q.S.I.'s (one Q.S.I. equals one Queensland Sugar Industry at 20 million tonnes of cane or 3 million tonnes of sugar). of ethanol. One Q.S.I. equals 1-84 Gl

It would require 2.5 Q.S.I.'s to replace petrol from the present proportion of crude oil, or possibly less if the proportion of petrol from Australian crude oil is higher.

Factors relating to this implication will be discussed later but for the present two postulated situations will be examined in some detail, as well as some related possibilities which become evident.

36 (a) A sugar cane factory in which the crystal raw sugar production is reduced to 50% of normal capacity whilst juice not required for this as well as molasses produced after raw sugar crystallization is processed for ethanol production.


An entirely new sugar growing area is established together with a factory for processing juice extracted from the cane for ethanol.

There are several intermediate possibilities such as doubling the capacity of the juice extraction plant, increasing the size of the steam and electricity generation facility and attaching fermentation and distillation facilities to handle juice from the increased cane supply. This would also require all the provisions involved in doubling the cane production, harvesting and transport facilities.

Alternatively, if raw sugar production is to be curtailed, then the whole of the evaporation and crystallizing plant would become redundant, as well as the sugar handling and transport facilities. There would also

be strong objections to changes in the status quo which is a factor common in any comparable situation.

Before discussing any of the possible arrangements in detail, it is necessary to establish certain basic parameters.

When contemplating the establishment of a new industry, one should expect to be able to commence with only the best of technology known at the time and plans for the proposal are prepared. Invariably there are

developments in progress all the time but it becomes necessary at some stage in the proposal to "freeze" developments and produce operating equipment. This does not prejudice future improvements which can be expected to be made operational as economic and other factors indicate.

37 For a number of years developments in the ethanol fermentation field have been proceeding at very leisurely pace because of the heavy dominance of synthesis ethanol. Since the current energy crisis has developed

the fermentation for ethanol has received very much attention and it is inevitable that important "freezing" decisions will become necessary.

In such a situation there will be endeavours to sell outdated technology at a discounted price. This can appear to have many economic

advantages in the short term but for disadvantages to become progressively more prominent. Decision makers will also have to evaluate the relative

merits of tested techniques with those which have not proceeded beyond the laboratory stage no matter how hopeful prospects may be.

The same applies to raw material supply - cane breeding, growing, harvesting and transport.

It is most unlikely that an ethanol processing facility could be established to operate effectively before the 1980 sugar season even on a limited scale of dual operation. Nothing earlier than 1983 might be

contemplated for entirely new area development.

Because the sugar cane growing industry is well established in Australia and all the mechanisms for progressive development appear to be operating satisfactorily, it should be safe to use anticipated 1985 field productivity figures as a basis for estimating the average type of situation which might be expected for the first 5 years of meaningful operation. This will be

done for the purpose of this report and appropriate modifying factors may be applied if so desired.

38 BASIC FUNDAMENTAL INFORMATION Productivity of cane = 90.0 tonnes/ha. average 1980/1990. (actual projected figure = 90.49 1.81) Yield of sugar = 13.92 tonnes of 94 N.T. sugar /ha (0.1) C.C.S. = 15.3 Comparable to Central District average 1970 - 15.24 C.C.S. 16.51 pol % cane or Burdekin 1969 - 15.56 C C S . 16.72 pol % cane Sugar in cane as equivalent sucrose = 17.0% cane " " " " " " " glucose = 17.9% cane

Productivity as equivalent glucose = 16.2 tonnes/ha Stoichiometric ethanol potential = 6481/tonne glucose = 9.72 kl/ha Juice extraction = 95.5% nett = 84% Fermentation/distillation efficiency 88% Nett ethanol production potential = 0.8 kl/ha or 97.4 1/t.c.

The price of cane is qualitatively related to the price of sugar: Price of cane = Price of Sugar x .009 ( C C S . - 4 ) + 0.382 Price of sugar = $170/tonne 94 N.T. Equivalent price of cane = $17.67 tonne Molasses = 2.75% cane - 53% of total sugars as glucose.

Part of the stability of the present sugar industry in Queensland must be related to the fact that no new complete sugar production plant has been erected in Australia since the Tully Mill which produced its first sugar in 1925. In fact several of the smaller plants have been closed down including Most of the other plants in

the sugar beet factory at Maffra in Victoria.

Queensland were erected towards the end of last century or early in the current one, although many changes have been made and present standards of equipment are generally good by any standards.

39 DUAL PURPOSE FACTORY To produce ethanol does not require that crystal sugar must first be made, but a split of the juice stream is all that is required. Superficially

this is the simplest way in which to distribute raw material for both crystal raw sugar and ethanol production in the same complex. some rationalization would optimize processing. In fact,

The juice extracted

at the mills falls progressively in purity from stage to stage along the tandem.

In the absence of information upon which to make a real decision it would seem to be favourable to prefer higher purity juice for crystal sugar production and route lower quality juice to ethanol manufacture. At the present time we do not have any information on the hydrolysis and fermentation characteristics of sugar cane juice as distinct from molasses. There is a very much lower concentration of non sugars in juice than in molasses and it would seem that fermenting the juice should be a slightly less difficult undertaking. Until more basic information becomes

available, we may not be justified in taking any possible quantitative advantages into account but a qualitative allocation of juices would seem to be in order.

For the purpose of these calculations it will be proposed to crystallize 50% of the normal factory output of raw sugar. average Queensland For an

sugar mill the full assigned production would be Since preference could well be given to

93,000 tonnes of 94 N.T. sugar.

a larger mill for a primary installation a capacity of 120,000 tonnes of crystal sugar will be considered, reduced to 60,000 tonnes for 50% production. The total cane, however, will be the equivalent of 125,000 The juice from the

tonnes of 94 N.T. sugar or 817,000 tonnes of cane.

balance of the cane will be required for crystal sugar production with a residual molasses of 1720 tonnes containing 53% of sugars or 910 tonnes of

40 glucose equivalent. The juice from the balance of the cane would contain

73121 tonnes of glucose equivalent, making a total of 74031 tonnes.

Total production of ethanol = 42.2 Ml or 103 1/tonne of cane allocated to ethanol (see later calculations for details to give 43.6 Ml).

The cost of ethanol in terms of raw material would be 17.11/1 (later reduced to 16.74/1 - see details for reasons).

In actual fact it would probably be best to use only the first mill juice and if necessary portion of the second mill for crystal sugar production and only boil A massecuites. The first mill extracts about

73% of the sugar in the cane, but since the per cent of sugar recovered in an A massecuite is of the order of 63% this would require about 76% of the total sugar in the syrup. sugar in mud during clarification. There would be a loss of perhaps 0.5% of Hence the first mill juice would be

barely sufficient except under better than average conditions of operation.

The juices from the later mills progressively become more dilute as the result of the water added for lixiviation as an aid to the milling process. This would be compensated by the addition of the concentrated A molasses (probably about 75% total dissolved solids).

Further economies could be effected by operating with a continuous sugar boiling pan of which there are indications overseas that these are more satisfactory than the corresponding units developed for C massecuites. There are also rather better prospects for steam economy but that is of marginal value unless fibre can be hydrolysed, in which case it would be of substantial value.

To estimate a cost for processing the sugar juice to ethanol is difficult.

41 A distillery operating on cane juice associated with raw sugar production experiences both advantages and disadvantages from this arrangement.

Advantages include a "free" supply of steam and electric power generated from burning the fibre from the cane as bagasse. There are

also benefits accruing from a common management and service facilities such as roads.

On the other hand it may well be restricted to operate only at times when the raw sugar side is operating. At the worst this means for only

about 70% of a 32 week crushing season or 157 operating days - 43% of a year. This would correspondingly increase the capital charges.

Arrangements could be made to store the molasses and process this in the slack season, or even to concentrate juice and store (such syrup is being successfully stored in the sugar beet industry in U.S.A. under quite high summer ambient temperature conditions). In these circumstances

coal would be required to generate steam when bagasse is not available. Unfortunately bagasse does not store at all well unless it is baled and baling costs money. There are also the costs of storing the baled

bagasse in a shed and then of recovering the bagasse for firing.

Very careful costing is necessary before these complex issues can be resolved and there is probably no single local circumstances. best answer" depending upon

Information regarding real costs for both capital and operating charges is both difficult to obtain and such as is available from different sources is very conflicting. A great deal of secrecy prevails concerning these

matters both in Australia and overseas.

42 As examples of these conflicts may be cited, firstly capital cost items.

An attached fermentation/distillery plant should not require additional steam or power generation facilities as already indicated.

A plant to produce ethanol at 42.2 Ml within 70% operational time of a 32 week season would be rated as having 100 Ml/annum installed capacity.

One Australian estimate for a plant of this capacity and attached to a sugar factory is $40m. At the other extreme are figures from U.S.A.,

Germany or Japan closer to $4m.

It is well known that Australian costs for capital equipment are high compared with overseas costs but not to this extent. even 1.5 should be more realistic than a factor of 10. Perhaps a factor 1.3 or

Steam consumptior figures seem to be reasonably consistent with a figure of 2 kg steam/1 of rectified ethanol being obtained with modern plant in the distillation and rectification stages. Sterilization of juice and

miscellaneous needs would add another 1 kg and the dehydrating distillation a further 1.5 kg making a total of 4.5 kg steam/1 of absolute ethanol.

The figure of 2 kg for the production of rectified spirits is based on the processing of molasses diluted to a concentration of 10% of sugars. Juice would have a concentration of 17% of sugars or 24% after mixing with the A molasses.

Research on fermentation has aimed at processing higher concentration solutions and since the purity of the juice - A molasses mixture with respect to total sugars would be close to 84% compared to about 66% for final molasses there may be good prospects of operating at higher concentrations

43 with the purer materials. For the juice - A molasses mixtures, if fully

effective hydrolysis and fermentation can be achieved, this would be equivalent to 15 to 15.5% of alcohol (w/w) in the product mash or 19% v/v. These concentrations are probably approaching the limit and a practical limit of 15% v/v would be more realistic - actually values up to 14% have been claimed for fermented molasses beers and molasses diluted to sugar concentrations as high as 18% are reported to be successfully treated in fermenters.

There are undoubtedly further steam economics which could be effected in the fermentation/distillation procedures but it would require more specific experimentation with sugar cane juice itself before these could be estimated. Fermentation of so-called high-test molasses would be with

a raw material somewhere between final molasses and the juice - A molasses mixture envisaged here. Whilst there is experience with high-test molasses

overseas this has not been a raw material in Queensland distillery experience, high-test molasses has always been too valuable for crystallizing sugar.

Labour requirements indicated from reported experience seems to be about 400 1/man-hr but this varies according to the size of the distillery and the degree of automation and a halving of this cost would not be too difficult to envisage.

Undoubtedly there are differences in techniques and problems of suitable selection of equipment and processes are compounded for a 1979+ installation because of the long time which has elapsed since competitive quotations have been common in the field of fermentation ethanol. It is difficult also to

know just what charge to make for the use of sugar mill equipment and management, obviously this cannot all be charged against the 50% usage of its facilities for sugar production. Here again much secrecy prevails

concerning real operating costs although there are some yardsticks such as examining financial information provided for shareholders and applying

44 appropriate factors. The monies received from the sale of raw sugar

are debited with the costs of selling and the balance distributed between the farmer and miller. The proportion which the farmer gets varies with As a general statement distributions

both C C S . and price of sugar.

are recognised as being aprroximately two-thirds for the farmer and one third for the miller. At C.C.S. values above a certain figure the farmer

gets more than this proportion and when the price of sugar is above a certain figure he gets less than this proportion. The following

calculations closely approximate the turning points in to this relationship. It can be seen therefore just how difficult it is translate income from processing for raw sugar to income for processing for ethanol.

At the 15.3 C.C.S. average figure chosen for this exercise, if the miller operated at 100 coefficient of work (he might well operate up to 102 in this C.C.S. range) then he would receive 32% of the sugar price and the farmer 68%. He would have to process his ethanol at 7.78/1.

Calculated thus: Cost of 100 tonnes of cane @ 15.3 C C S . and sugar @ $170/tonne 94 N.T.=$1776 Money which would have been received if 15.3 tonnes of sugar had been produced = 15.3 x 170 = $2601 Miller's share = 2601 - 1776 = $825

45 Value of sugar actually produced = 7.6 x 170 = $1292 Miller's share = 1292 x 825 = $409.80 2601 Income the miller would expect to receive for processing to ethanol= 825 - 409.80 = $415.20 Ethanol expected to be produced from 100 tonnes of cane under these conditions = 5340 1. Pro-rata money required = 7.78/l ethanol. We are also now in a better position to cost the farmer's contributions.

Total money the farmer receives = $1776 Money paid to farmer for the 7.6 tonnes of sugar produced: have come from 7.6 x 100 = 49.67 tonnes of cane 15.3 49.76 x 17.76 = $882.20 Value of cane used for ethanol production = 1776 - 882.20 = $893.80 Pro-rata ethanol cost = 16.74/1 (see previous figure of 17.11) Total cost of ethanol = 24.52 /1. this would

The costs of chemicals for fermentation are difficult to assess because of the differences between juice and final molasses. It is necessary to

determine whether the juice for ethanol should be put through the classical sugar juice purification stages or merely heated for sterilization. The

general appearance of clarified juice would be much better, but the lime used for neutralizing the natural acidity of the juice would have to be paid for as well as the cost of sedimentation and mud filtration. Clarified juice at a pH around 7 would have little natural hydrolysing power for the sucrose where a pH of 5.5 for raw juice would be quite useful in this respect especially if temperatures are taken to 100 for sterilizing.

Much of the protein in the raw juice would be coagulated by this treatment but there would seem to be no point in separating this, rather

46 allow it to go forward to the fermentation stage. The juice would need 27. This is

to be cooled to a primary fermentation temperature around

most easily effected by flash cooling but a vacuum higher than normally achieved in a sugar factory would be needed viz. 29 inches rather than 26.5 or an absolute pressure of 3.5 kPa instead of 12. to 50 Flash cooling

supplemented by refrigeration cooling would appear to be a

desirable combination to give positive temperature control.

A pure culture yeast should be selected on its ethanol producing capacity rather than one which might be more suited to also producing the associated flavours desirable in the manufacture of potable spirits.

Yeast at the rate of l0kg/kl would seem to be the order of magnitude required if the yeast is separated from the mash by means of centrifugal separators and recycled as in the Helle process. This is done before "mash".

distillation and the separated yeast re-introduced into fresh

With this process it has been found possible to re-use the yeast continuously for periods as long as a sugar season and with yields of 91-92% of ethanol.

Three stages of distillation are employed - the first two being with double effect conservation of energy and 95% ethanol-water is produced as a constant boiling point mixture. This is dehydrated by azeotropic

distillation to produce absolute echanol.

The total protein in the juice is likely to be about 0.5% on raw juice solids or about 200 g N/kl of raw juice. The amount of N required

for fermentation is somewhat less than this figure but the extent to which the yeast might be able to avail itself has yet to be determined. Raw

juice should contain about 500 g of P2O5 /kl which should be adequate for the yeast. Other mineral constituents of raw juice would include about

47 1300g/kl of K 2 O, 300g/kl of CaO and 400g/kl of M g O. Each of these

should be adequate for the requirements of the fermentation process. The actual concentrations and proportions of the various mineral constituents vary according to the composition of the soil and the nature of the fertilizer programme in the cane field. The slops or residue from the still would contain 18.5 to 20 kg of solids at a concentration of 6.3% and disposal as effluent is undesirable from the environmental point of view. It might be used as irrigation This

water as the soluble substances are mainly good plant nutrients. would not be entirely without cost and some storage would be needed

because irrigation usage would not necessarily coincide with process production. Furthermore it would then be necessary to acquire some of

the water required at the mills for lixiviation. Alternatively the slops could be used partly as maceration fluid for the lixiviation process. Recycling of weak alkaline juices for this

purpose has never been a satisfactory exercise in sugar mill operation because excessive slippage tends to develop under these circumstances. The slops however would tend to be acidic and may be suitable for recycling. Recycling of slops solids as fertilizer is simplified if they are concentrated to about 50% total solids. For this purpose a multiple

effect evaporator would be required and a quadruple unit would be adequate from the point of view of steam economy. If the concentration of solids

in slops were to be doubled by recycling for lixiviation this would have little effect of significance on the overall steam balance but the size of the unit could be reduced to less than half. A possible flow sheet is outlined in Figure 1, together with a balance of materials and steam requirements.

48 A fibre content of 14.4% on cane is assumed for these calculations.

The estimated total steam requirement for the dual process is 748 kg/tonne cane if quintuple effect evaporation combined with steam bleeding from the second effect for juice heating is employed for the concentration of juice and a quadruple effect with pre-heating from the first effect is used for slops concentration.

If the steam is generated with an efficiency of 82% on N.Th.V. of bagasse the potential supply would be 876 kg/tonne cane. An efficiency

of this magnitude is quite common for bagasse fired units when it is needed, in fact such equipment was installed and successfully operated in Queensland as far back as 1938. In the present day situation fibre values

of cane are significantly higher as a result of variety changes and much lower steam generation efficiencies are adequate.

For full crystal sugar production the factory would require not more than about 550 kg of steam/tonne cane in which case the steam would need to be generated at an efficiency of only 51%. The efficiency would need to In

be increased to 70% to operate the distillery and its accessories.

modern boiler installations there is a certain built-in flexibility to enable higher efficiencies to be operated for seasonal periods when fibre in cane is low and incineration conditions when fibre values are high. Whether the available flexibility is sufficient to cope with an increase to 70% would depend upon the particular installation concerned. There

would in fact need to be sufficient flexibility to go up to the 82% if the fibre were to fall as low as 12.3. This is possible for the early

weeks of a season and the probability would have to be estimated from a study of local data. Values as low as 13.3, however, would probably have

to be allowed for with an equivalent efficiency of 76%.

49 The efficiency of steam generation is related to the amount of heat recovered from gases leaving the furnace which may be used to pre-heat the air used for combustion and/or feed water. Whilst flexibility in steam generator efficiency is important it is also necessary to look at steam generator capacity. need to be increased by 36% on average figures. This would

However, normal sugar

factory steam generators are required to be able to take overloads of up to 25% to cope with the variable demand imposed by batch operated sugar boiling pans. An inspection of steam generator capacity data for Queensland mills processing 800,000 tonnes of cane in a season appear generally to have installations rated at about 180 tonnes steam/hr to compare with an average demand envisaged at 160. This would allow a 13% surplus which

should be sufficient to cope with the sugar boiling pans operated at half capacity. The fermenters and distillery would need cooling water, but it is considered that this would be available from the requirement displaced by closing down 50% of raw sugar production.

It is not possible to assess the total electric power requirements until more specific information is available concerning the actual fermenter mash concentration. The quantity of mash to be treated

would be between 1500 and 30001/min depending upon concentration which can be operated in the fermenter. Throughputs of this order would need

200 to 400 kw to sustain continuous operation of a centrifugal separator.

Since sugar factories of this capacity usually have about 8Mw of electrical generating capacity this should be sufficient for the fermenter centrifuge requirements when operated on a dual product basis.

50 In assessing costs it is necessary to take into account the loss of income experienced by the miller from the sale of molasses which would amount to some 22,500 tonnes for cane of the quality treated. To offset this would be the value of concentrated slops as fertilizer. The quantity of such product would be 15,000 tonnes of dry solids. The average price of chemical fertilizer is of the order of $100/tonne so that a value of perhaps $50/tonne of dry solids might not be an unreasonable valuation. It will be assumed for the purpose of this

exercise that the value of slops fertilizer compensates for the loss of molasses.

Furthermore no credit has been transferred to ethanol production which would result from the simplifications made possible in the production of raw sugar whereby only A massecuites are boiled and which are more easily treated in the centrifugals than the normally succeeding B and C massecuites. exhaustion. Mo large crystallizers are required for C massecuite

These benefits are difficult to quantify and are marginal but nevertheless real.

Cost estimates for the acual production of ethanol in dual product operations would need to be closely related to the general pattern of the sugar industry.

The distillery would require labour for its own operation, the raw sugar section would also require labour but in smaller numbers for a 50% production rate, but not a pro-rata reduction.

The cost of transporting cane to the mill is part of the miller's cost structure and the distillery would be expected to pay for 50% of

51 this cost, also 50% of the costs of milling and of operating the steam generating plant.

The labour required to operate the distillery itself would depend upon the degree of automation incorporated in the process. For a

distillery of the size associated with this project a figure of 800 1 of ethanol/man-hr is the one which will be used here. This would appear to

compare reasonably with a figure of 400 1/man-hr quoted for some distilleries overseas with throughput rates of the order of one quarter of that envisaged here.

Although the distillery under discussion would be expected to produce 44 Ml of ethanol in a season of 150 days it would be rated at closer to 100 Ml if operated continuously on a yearly basis. This is twice the

rated capacity of the present molasses based distillery at Sarina which is described in the 1977 Australian Sugar Year Book as being "large by world standards".

At 800 1/man-hr a labour force of 15 men per shift would be required. On the raw sugar side there might be 8 men per shift reduced to 6, half of whose costs should be carried by the ethanol plant.

Half of the capital charges of the sugar plant should also be borne by the ethanol. It is very difficult to assess a figure for this since

no new sugar mills have been built in Queensland for over 50 years although many items of equipment may be relatively recent installations. Perhaps an idea of the "book value" may be obtained from observing that a sugar mill of about half of the size being considered here changed hands in 1976 for around $4m. which would indicate a figure of the order of $6m for one twice the size. Two sugar mills of about the size being

considered here also changed hands in 1975, but were included in a package deal which tended to mask the actual values put on the sugar mills themselves.

52 However a figure of perhaps $8m. each may not be very far out as they were rather more efficiently equipped than the smaller $4m. unit. Undoubtedly all three figures are well below replacement costs, but would be within range of the cost strictly to be taken into account for assessing the ethanol plant liability.

Since it is easier to assess the capital charges at an overall figure for the entire sugar milling and factory complex the service charge for transport of cane relates only to the cost of labour and consumables such as fuel for the locomotives.

The cost picture now emerging is

ummarized in Table II.

Since the

quality of cane varies from one district to another an indication of the order of magnitude of this effect is given as well as for the "average" conditions

53 TABLE II Dual Product Plant to produce ethanol not using molasses from other mills in the district. Processing costs only

It is evident therefore that the cost of producing ethanol in a dual product arrangement with a 50-50 split in the manner indicated would result in the ethanol processing costs exceeding the cost of the equivalent raw sugar production by about 45% if the miller is to be recouped for his effort in terms satisfactorily in line with current sugar industry arrangements. The increase necessary in the price of ethanol is 3.88/1.

54 In Table III is set out the effect of different quality of cane normal to the four districts. The differences have been proportioned relative to

average C.C.S. ratios for each district taken over the years 1971/75 to the average C.C.S. for Queensland during the same period and the equivalent C.C.S. calculated relative to the base average figure of 15.3 which we have so far been using. The corresponding price of cane has been

calculated relative to a raw sugar price of $170/Te 9 * + N.T.

The corresponding raw material cost has been evaluated in terms of /l of ethanol. The appropriate processing cost has been transferred from

Table II and added to the raw material cost to give an indication of the total estimated cost of ethanol produced under the conditions specified. These figures do not include the cost of transport to the nearest port. TABLE III Dual Product Plant to produce ethanol not using molasses from other mills in the district. Raw Material plus Processing Costs

55 EFFECT OF VARYING THE PROPORTION OF PRODUCTS It is of some interest to study the effect of varying the ratio of raw sugar to ethanol without changing the total quantity of cane processed in a season. If we use the same criteria as before, viz:-

to obtain the same overall return of money as would be obtained from a corresponding production of raw sugar.

For an arrangement of 75 sugar-25 ethanol the total quantity of ethanol produced would be only of the order of 24 Ml and there would be difficulty in meeting capital cost requirements unless significant economies could be effected in this direction.

The 50-50 arrangement would seem to be close to optimum conditions for dual purpose operation.

LOCALITY FOR DUAL PRODUCT OPERATION Two alternative situations are considered in this arrangement.


No increase in cane cultivation but ethanol production would take up problems associated with a falling export market for raw sugar.


The export market for raw sugar does not fall but sugar cane growing is extended in existing areas to provide cane for ethanol production.

It is evident that a simultaneous development of an ethanol industry at all of the 30 existing raw sugar factories would not be a particularly practical proposition. Even given the capability for such an achievement

the novelty of the development would suggest the wisdom of an element of caution as it would appear inevitable that in the present state of knowledge the second installation would be technologically better than the first and

56 it would be some time before reasonable equilibrium had been reached in design details.

Therefore if there is to be an initial selection of certain factories for preferential development the criteria for selection should first be identified. The following criteria are listed in the event of the

choice being the first of the two alternatives just listed.


Magnitude of current scale of sugar production - it is only in this way that any advantages associated with large scale production of ethanol could be secured. There is no difficulty

in identifying factories meeting this criterion, simply by reference to the list of assigned sugar production in statistical records or "mill sugar peaks" as it is known in the industry. Also see Table IV set out in this report.


Efficiency of operation. identify.

This criterion is more difficult to

Firstly there are at least two measures of efficiency -

(a) yield of sugar as crystal relative to sugar in the cane and (b) labour cost involved in production. Other efficiency

criteria might include (c) management and (d) cost of materials such as lime and added fuel. confidential character. Most of this information is of a

Information related to operating efficiency is exchanged between factories through the co-ordinating services of the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations but it is still confidential within the group. Financial information is even more confidentially covered and only an intelligent guess is possible from such company balance sheets as may be published or from such other stistics such as employment records which might: be ferreted out of government files if access is possible.

57 (3) Locality with respect to a port should be given some weight as a

pipeline of several kilometers could be a viable proposition whereas 50 km or more would pose a significant capital expense and transport by rail would be expensive. Transportation cost has not been included in Using

the ethanol price whereas it is in the sugar production cost.

these criteria it would be possible to give a ranking to a mill for which three grades might be recognised in each group. However, if

two mills with rankings 3-3-1 and 2-2-3 were to be compared the fact that each had a similar total ranking value would not necessarily mean that the cost of ethanol would be similar in each case. An increase in the

number of ranking steps for each criterion could well improve selection but a detailed study of information is justified for such an important decision.

Other criteria might also be deemed to be important depending upon many local circumstances. Some previous experience in the production

of fermentation ethanol could have short term advantages but the technical expertise of the Queensland sugar industry is such that the opinion is submitted that it would not be long before this advantage was overtaken.

Developments along this line could see four or five of the best ranking factories producing upwards of 250 Ml of ethanol each season by 1981 or 1982, of which about 10% could be used locally in blended fuels and the balance would be about enough to provide for most of Queensland's petrol needs in terms of a 10% blend.

It would deprive the Australian sugar industry of about 12 1/2% of its annual sugar production.

58 In the event of it being decided to expand sugar cane growing, additional criteria for preferred area selection would need to be identified such as:-


Productivity of existing assigned land area.


Additional available land of suitable character and suitably located

with respect to the mill.


Ability to increase productivity on existing land by such means as

increasing irrigation.

It would be invidious in this report to identify specific mills in relation to the first three criteria and the sugar industry itself has well researched the criteria in relation to its programmes of expansion which have been taking place during the period of progressive development of overseas markets.

The report of the Commonwealth/State Burdekin Project Committee titled "Resources and Potential of the Burdekin River Basin" (June 1977) gives a very good detailed survey of the possibilities for both expansion of area and increase in productivity. Although specific to the Burdekin area it

also contains valuable discussion relevant to other aspects of the sugar industry. The estimate of an anticipated annual growth rate for the

industry of 2.5 per cent may need revision with respect to the export market, but prophets in this field have for many years been almost invariably distinguished by error. Otherwise the writer would generally support the

findings of the report, being well acquainted with the area and its potentialities and having been a member of an unofficial local committee studying the same subject in about 1940.

59 In Table IV is listed the total gross areas of land assigned for the growing of sugar cane associated with each of the 30 sugar mills in Queensland and the corresponding annual sugar production allotment or "mill peak as it is known in the industry. The figures are as listed

in The Australian Sugar Year Book, Strand Publishing Co., Brisbane, 1977 and refer to the year 1976.

If one were to take the simple ratio of mill sugar peak to gross assigned area of land, a first order indication would be obtained of the expected efficiency of land usage in the various mill districts and afford a quantifying number for the fourth criterion for locality selection. There is a certain realism in such figures by virtue of the annual adjustments which are made after the submission of lengthy arguments essentially related to the real life situations at the time.

DUAL PRODUCT PLANT WITH MOLASSES SUPPLEMENT In the short term it should be possible to utilize the potential capacity of the distillery to process final molasses from other mills in the district. The benefits of this would become progressively less if

other distilleries were to be installed within the same district.

Before this could be done it would be necessary to examine carefully present commitments for the sale of molasses. About half of the

molasses is disposed of overseas and cognisance would need to be taken of possible long term contracts. The overseas price is also uncertain and if

demand exceeds supply this is likely to rise, but international molasses prices are just as difficult to predict as international sugar prices and in fact there is a certain inter-relationship.

It would also be necessary to negotiate local arrangements in Queensland and rationalize transport so that for example molasses produced in the central district goes to a central district distillery and molasses


61 produced in the Burdekin district goes to a Burdekin district distillery. All this would seem merely to be common sense, but we are considering the prospects of a changed situation.

For the purpose of this consideration it will be assumed that the desired molasses supply arrangements are accomplished and that there is a sugar mill suitably located in each of the four Queensland sugar growing districts. The basic data already used may not strictly apply in each of

the four areas but are considered to be sufficiently representative to use for the next stage of calculations and appropriate adjustments may be made if desired.

Two possibilities for processing present themselves - one is to store all of the final molasses from other factories and process this during the slack season using coal as a fuel for steam generation and thus reduce capital costs on distillery and steam generation plant. This would also

have social benefits in providing longer employment prospects for distillery employees. The other is to build a larger distillery, devise techniques

for maximum steam economy throughout and supplement with coal if extra fuel is needed, and process all of the extra molasses during the sugar production period. In the first year there would be the problem of all

mills within the area not commencing or finishing on the same date but this could be overcome by storage of a balancing stock of molasses carried over the slack season.

The former of these two options will be accepted for estimating costs here, recognising that there may also be other options and various mixtures of options are possible. A much more exhaustive and detailed study would

be required before final decisions could be taken with confidence.

The cost situation for selected options is summarized in Tables V and VI.


Dual Product Plant to produce ethanol - also using additional molasses from other mills in the district. Raw Material Costs

63 TABLE VI Dual Product Plant to produce ethanol - also using additional molasses from other mills in the district. Total estimated costs of ethanol.


There are several possibilities for the location of a single purpose plant operated only for the production of ethanol from sugar cane juice.


Conversion of an existing raw sugar factory.


Erection of a new complex within the ambit of the existing raw sugar industry.


Erection of a new complex completely separated from the existing raw sugar industry.

Looking at the factors involved in converting an existing raw sugar factory for the processing of the whole of the juice from sugar cane to ethanol production, the cane preparation and milling tandem would remain unchanged.

A flow sheet of the main operations and processes involved is shown in Figure 2 together with an elementary analysis of materials balance and steam requirements. A more detailed study of the flow sheet could well

reduce the steam requirements but at this stage, a more simplified picture is considered to be sufficient for the present purpose.

If slops from the stills were to be recycled to the field as irrigation then the amount of steam required to produce anhydrous ethanol would be much the same as for the production of raw sugar. If however, the slops

are to be concentrated to a 50% water content and this is done by quintuple effect evaporation then this would increase steam consumption from about 550 kg/tonne cane to 750. This is well within the capability of the

bagasse supply for a fibre of 14.4% in cane and would require a steam generator efficiency of 70% on N.Th.V, or alternatively could cope with a

65 drop in fibre content of cane to 12.5 if efficiency were to be pushed to the achievable limit of 82.

The total rate of steam generation would need to be about 185 tonnes/hr which is sufficiently close to the rated figures of steam generators installed in sugar mills processing 817,000 tonnes of cane in a season (actually 181-183).

Cooling water required for the fermenters and for the distillery as well as for the condenser of the slops evaporator would be expected to be available from the normal cooling water system of the raw sugar factory.

The mechanical power requirements of a raw sugar factory complex is concentrated in driving the rollers of the mill tandem and this would be the same for the distillery. Electric power consumption in a raw In the former

sugar factory is probably higher than for a distillery.

there are heavy demands for the operation of centrifugals and these are particularly strong generators of surges. In the latter there would be

some significant power required for the centrifugal yeast separators but these would operate on a continuous cycle and without power surges. The electric power production capacity of the raw sugar plant should be adequate for the total needs of an ethanol plant.

Total ethanol production from 817 kTe of cane would be expected at 79.5 Ml (without additional molasses processing).

A larger ethanol plant would be required than for a 50-50 dual product plant and the two costs are taken as being related by the exponent 0.6 which is a commonly accepted value for relating the relative cost of plants of different sizes thus:-


Single Product Plant to produce ethanol without additional molasses

68 TABLE VIII Single Product Plant to produce ethanol also using additional molasses from other mills in district. Raw Material Costs.

69 TABLE IX Single Product Plant to produce ethanol also using additional molasses. Total estimated costs of ethanol.

Thus to summarize the cost estimating situation so far a tabulation has been set out in Table X indicating the estimates for each selected

option for each of the four present sugar cane growing districts in Queensland. A weighted average cost for Queensland is given, weighted on

the basis of ethanol production rather than for the average 817,000 Te cane complex. This average would, however, only be meaningful if each of the

four districts was equipped for ethanol production and would likewise lose meaning if any one district was equipped with two plants.

70 TABLE X Summary of Estimated Costs of Ethanol Production - Primary Options

Total ethanol potential for an 817,000 Te cane complex - Megalitres of ethanol per annum

The lowest cost situation would appear to be in the central district for one only dual product arrangement and with the final molasses from all the mills in the district also being processed in the same plant. cost is estimated at 21.5C/1 for an annual production of 96 Ml. This Any

increase in production of ethanol within the district would appear to result in a rise in this cost due mainly to loss of further income from raw sugar production. The reality of such a situation would have to be faced according

73 All of the dual product options reveal a lower cost for ethanol than the corresponding single product option because the whole of the molasses produced within the complex is processed for ethanol. This and related

benefits of dual product operation more than offset the scale benefits for a larger distillery for single product operation. There would no doubt

be a point at which larger scale operation would reverse this trend if the capacity were to be increased.

The dominance of the cost of raw material is, however, always evident.

There are opportunities for either increasing or decreasing the price of the product such as incurring a higher capital expenditure than anticipated or finding that portion or all of the contingency provision is not required.

Rises in wages over the next 10 years would have more effect on the capital cost of new equipment than on the operating cost of a process. There is abundant evidence of this in the history of the sugar industry over the past 40 years when operating costs in field as well as in factory have been very largely contained by more efficient operation, better management or an increase in automation.

The capital charges for this exercise have been calculated to return 20% on outstanding capital during a 20 year period of equal amortized payments. invested. The actual annual payments represent 20.54% of the capital

Maintenance costs have been assessed as 7.5% of the total capital cost for the annual requirements. This is generally considered to be a

generous allowance for a plant of this character.

74 It is at this point that we could look at the effect of increasing the growing area for sugar cane associated with a particular mill district, and how this would effect the cost of ethanol. There are of course two

possibilities - (a) to double production in all areas and (b) to double production only in the areas producing ethanol. In either situation, the

full benefits of scaling up would not accrue to the ethanol production since it would have to contribute towards capital costs of increasing the capacity of the cane transport system, the milling tandem, the steam generators and the electricity generators as well as paying the fee for the labour involved in performing these functions. On the other hand,

it would not have to compensate the miller for lost profits or redundancy of plant since the quantity of sugar produced would remain unaltered.

In Table XII are set out the costs for such a venture but only "average" conditions have been assessed, the inter-regional effects would be much the same as before on a proportional basis. The only situation corsidered

for the calculations in this table is the one for which expansion takes place only for ethanol production and the total production of raw sugar remains unchanged.

A further capital cost disadvantage which this type of expansion would experience would be that the new sugar milling and related equipment would be at a very much higher pro-rata cost than the "book value" of the currently operating equipment used in the previous calculations.

TABLE XII Effect of Doubling the Size of a Sugar Mill on Ethanol Cost

sugar on the world market which is notoriously unpredictable.

Ten per

cent variation in this component would be reflected by a 6% variation in the price of the resulting ethanol since the price of sugar cane is The price of cane grown for the

directly related to the price of sugar.

production of domestically consumed ethanol could be stabilised in much the same way as it is for domestic crystal sugar consumption but whether at the same level or not is a matter which would also involve political components in any decision.

The capital influenced component of the distillery itself is a much lesser proportion at 12%. It would require an error of 50% to have in the

the same influence on the price of ethanol as a 10% variation price of sugar.

Due to recognised difficulties in estimating capital costs for new equipment in the current Australian economic environment. Estimates of

capital costs could increase by 50% , or quotations could vary by as much as 50%. Variations of this order of magnitude would affect the price /1.

of the ethanol ex-bowser by perhaps 3 to 4% or 1.0 (0.2)

The total labour component involved in transporting and processing the cane is a relatively minor proportion of the total cost at around 10%. It is likely that the labour assessment for operating the distillery

itself may be on the high side, on the other hand there could be lengthy discussion from representatives of the sugar industry concerning the assessment of costs attributed to normal sugar industry operations. A

net charge of 25% in labour costs could only affect the bowser price by about 0.6C/1.

This is not to be confused with any overall unexpected increase in wages which would have an influence permeating the whole cost structure, but should not be more than 12.5(2.5)% or an ex-bowser effect of 3.75 (0.75)/l, of which perhaps 30% would be absorbed into the inertia

This is still a higher figure than anything experienced prior to 1973.

There have been endeavours to reach international agreement on the production and price of sugar but with no marked success. During 1977

conferences have been convened under United Nations auspices to try and reach something in the way of an agreement under current conditions but decision making has been deferred.

One of the big problems in the recent round of discussions has been the effect of development of the sugar beet industry in Europe. In the

eighteenth century Europe was under seige by the British fleet and was desperately short of sugar normally imported from the West Indies. Under

those conditions the sugar beet was first farmed as an alternative source of sucrose. In 1977 Western Europe had a surplus of 3 million tonnes of

sugar with which to barter at the conference table after feeding her own population of nearly 500 million people at the rate of over 37 kg per head per annum as compared with a world average figure of 20 - little more than half of that of Europe. Belgium has currently been the country with

highest productivity for sugar beet yielding 9.2 tonnes of sugar per hectare as compared with a little over 11 for sugar cane in Australia but requiring 5.7 tonnes of beets to produce a tonne of sugar compared to 7 tonnes of cane in Australia. On a world basis, sugar cane growers can only average

5 tonnes of sugar per hectare and require nearly 11 tonnes of cane to produce a tonne of sugar. Hence the role of Europe as an importer of sugar

has gradually been reversed at least as far as the continental countries have been concerned. Britain with her colonial sugar interests and long

term contracts with Australia is slowly being forced to accept continental European beet sugar as part of the price of membership of the E.E.C.

The U.S.S.R. has been a substantial importer of sugar and in recent years has accepted the very large export surplus produced by Cuba. This

supplements a sugar beet crop of over 8 million tonnes which if farm and

81 reduce to some extent the rate of fall of the world sugar price and enable perhaps 3/4 million tonnes still to be satisfactorily exported.

In this context an examination will be made of the situation which would develop in the event of individual sugar factories in Queensland having only 50% of its cane used to produce raw crystal sugar and the balance diverted to ethanol production.

The argument just elaborated depends also on the price of oil maintaining an upward trend of 8% per annum. At present, the cost of

petrol to the Australian consumer is heavily modified by the low price of Australian crudes. This is unlikely to last as current prices

strongly militate against the discovery and development of new fields. However, the chief argument in the present thesis is the displacement of imported crude oil which is not only more highly priced but represents the export of Australian currency outside her traditional or newly developed trading areas.

The precision of the predicted 8% per annum rise in OPEC crude oil prices is also difficult to estimate but is probably more predictable than the corresponding world sugar price.

The price of oil itself is not the only factor in this area of discussion. complex. The real subject is the price of petrol which in itself is There must be some relationship to the basic price of crude

oil but this relationship is by no means simple or obvious, in fact it is variable but its variability seems to have been the component least subject to concern on the part of economic analysis although strongly suspect by the ordinary consumer.

In Australia we have been free of complexities arising from aromatic based crude oils as Middle East crudes are essentially aliphatic in

character as are also Indonesian and indigenous crudes.

The latter do,

however, differ from M.E. crudes in having a lower sulphur content and a higher proportion of lower boiling point components. We do have

aromatic components in Australian retail petrol in the form of alkylbenzenes (mostly toluene), petrol marketed in the Sydney area for example is known to have contained as much as 35 mole per cent of alkylbenzenes in recent years, and Borneo crude oils contain aromatic components. Alkylation of benzene is practised in the production of

petrol, benzene being a product of the pyrolysis of coal.

The basic liquid fuel of particular concern, at least in the forseeable future (50 years?) is M.F. crude oil and the possibilities of the progressive displacement of its petrol product by ethanol.

This proposal poses a threat as far as interest in Australia is concerned, to substantial vested interests in that industry. Superficially the threat may not appear to be serious but a lesson might well be learned from the reactions of such interests in the 1930's to the relatively minor production of ethanol from Queensland molasses. The

interests affected at that time were mainly marginal and local rather than fundamental and international, nevertheless the reactions were strong and clear. Ethanol was clearly not wanted by the oil interests as a

component of retail petrol.

A major lesson to be learned appears to be to get the oil interests on-side with ethanol production from sugar cane by financial and technical participation. The technical participation being essentially in The vested interests of manufacturers of

distribution and consumption.

motor car engines impinge also on the area of consumption and their participation and co-operation would be of equal value to the venture.

The term

vested interest

is not used here in any derogatory sense.

The full economic implications of having a viable operating industry are

recognised and the effects of change can be widespread in any community.

Before attempting to examine the price structure of petrol it is well to understand what is meant by petrol or gasoline, as it is known in the U.S.A. and its dependent areas. Petrol is a comprehensive mixture, not only of

hydro-carbons, but also of additives designed in one way or another to improve the performance of the basic blend.

Petrol is officially rated in terms of its octane number in relation to its behaviour in an ignition engine with specific reference to the knocking characteristic. In fact it probably is more closely related to

heptane than to octane, which is in fact often used as a standard fuel.

For example n-octane has a boiling point of 126C whereas data from one major oil company indicates that the boiling point range is more like 37-185 with 50% boiling below 112. and ethanol 78.5 . The b.p. of n-heptane is 98.4

It now seems to be common practice for petrol

companies to employ a similar basic blend of hydrocarbons and each has their own special additives. The following is a list of recognised additives

which may or may not be representative of any particular brand of petrol:-

The total comes to just on 1% of the weight of the basic petrol. These additives are more costly (w/w) than the hydrocarbon base and would probably add 10% to its cost including the costs of measuring and mixing. Whilst the retail price differential between standard

and "super" grades is closer to 6% this reflects very largely the cost of the anti-knock additive which is generally tetra-ethyl or tetra-methyl lead compounds. The lead compounds also require the presence of ethylene

dibromide to inhibit the deposition of lead oxide on the engine valves. This compound is vital to the use of lead anti-knock compounds and the availability of bromine for its manufacture has at times been critical.

Alkyl benzenes also have useful anti-knock properties when used in high compression engines all of which makes the processes of blending and selection of additives highly specialized undertakings.

We also know that one litre of Australian petrol requires 2.5 litres of crude oil for its production. Since the proportion of light fractions

in Australian crude oils is higher than for M.E. products it is possible that it takes 3 litres of crude oil imported from those regions to make one litre of petrol for the Australian market. Mo doubt this picture over-

simplifies the overall situation since the progressive development of fuel for aircraft jet engines has an influence on the proportioning of products by oil refineries. The tune which they play is a melody of many notes and

is highly orchestrated.

The actual costs of production of petrol are extraordinarily difficult to assess because it is not a simple calculation.

As is the case when pricing sugar, the capital cost component of the retail price is not assessed on present day replacement costs of oil refineries but on a " book value" related more to the original installation cost. Unlike raw sugar factories there have not been corresponding


88 ETHANOL FROM SUGAR CAME IN A NEW GROWING AREA The present Queensland sugar industry has grown steadily since it became organized at the time of federation. This growth has been

associated with a marked degree of stability but has involved the development of certain practices which could be considered as restrictive in a competitive environment. Many factors have also enabled the price

of sugar to be kept at low encugh levels to permit these to continue relatively unchallenged and in certain cases relatively unknown to the public at large. The conscience of the industry has considered this

reasonable in exchange for a stable supply of sugar to the community of high quality at an acceptable price and with financial stability within the industry itself.

Two of such practices are the self-imposed restriction on weekly operation of raw sugar factories themselves. These are operated for

only 5 of the 7 days each week largely in agreement to union pressure to mitigate the unfavourable social effects of a short operating season. In

overseas countries it has been common practice to operate for a period of about 21 days and then to close for the minimum time required for cleaning and maintenance - commonly less than 24 hours. Australian process

industry is by no means inexperienced in continuous operation (e.g. the metallurgical industries) and many appropriate working contracts have been developed over the years.

It is common practice in these situations to operate on a 4-group basis for the three shifts employing a roster system whereby each person works on an average of 42 hours per week but at the rate of 8 hours per day.

The fact that overseas (South-East Asian for example) sugar factories may operate on the basis of a 12-hour/man/day operation for 84 hours per

89 week may on first sight be abhorrent in the eyes of Australian workers. On closer examination it does not differ very greatly from Australian workers desirous of adding highly lucrative rates of pay for overtime, as most of the workers in the overseas situation are employed on a seasonal contract basis with an equal willingness to work long hours for extia money.

During the 1976 season the industry worked for only 61.6% of the gross available time which provides much food for thought.

On the agricultural side the mechanical harvesters have reached a quite sophisticated stage of development enabling the cost of cutting in 1977 to be kept below the cost in 1937. But machines which complete the

harvest of their daily quota within a period of 4 to 5 hours and are then idle for the remaining period of the 24 hours as well as at weekends could be said to be working for only about 13% of their available time. Operation of these harvesters is currently restricted by law to the hours of daylight, a poor comparison with the grain harvesters in the U.S.A. for example.

These are just two reasons why the development of an ethanol/sugar cane industry should be closely examined in terms of what could be achieved if every endeavour were made to achieve maximum productivity at all stages 3 but at the same time retaining cognisance of the social needs of the worker. These will be examined in detail later but first a look will be

taken at more superficial aspects of what would be involved in establishing such an industry on a worthwhile scale in entirely new localities in Queensland.


LOCATION OF A NEW SUGAR CANE/ETHANOL COMPLEX There are two aspects to this proposition - (1) location of an area suitable for growing sugar cane in the quantities envisaged and (2) the location of the factory site within the area selected.

The need for neighbouring port facilities is a desirable feature but not necessarily critical. For example the best sugar cane growing

area in Queensland is in the Burdekin district with an average distance of 80 km from the port facilities in Townsville. Transport of ethanol

to a port is less of a problem than the transport of sugar.

Pipeline transport can be a viable alternative to rail or road tankers over short distances - perhaps up to 10 km but some careful costing is needed to establish the relative economic merits of the three systems for each particular case, for which a knowledge of the quantity to be handled is equally as important as a knowledge of the distance.

Ethanol is a more valuable commodity than raw sugar - weight/weight at $310/Te corresponding to $170/Te for raw sugar from similarly priced cane.

The factory does need to be located close to a supply of water sufficient for its process cooling requirements, and also to be in reasona! proximity to a town to provide the residential community for its employees In entirely new area development it may be necessary to also develop the town as has been the case with the various new mining ventures in recent years.

The primary requirements for new area selection are suitable soil and climatic conditions. type of soil. Sugar cane will in fact grow in practically anj

It does object to saline conditions and does not

91 particularly like heavy alkaline clays although there are ways and means for dealing with the latter.

From the climatic point of view a rainfall of at least 1.5m during the growing period is needed either as natural precipitation or as irrigation or a suitable combination. More water at the right time and

in the right manner is beneficial but this will be discussed later in a cost-benefit study of irrigation development.

Temperatures within the range 27-33 during the growing period are favourable. The terrain is desirably flat, well drained and suitably

protected from floods.

The main growing season is between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes during which time about 75 to 80% of the total growth usually takes place.

When growing cane for crystal sugar production it is desired to develop as much sucrose as possible within the stalk of the cane and to harvest as much of the crop as possible during the period when this is a maximum.

It is recognised

that maximum sucrose content of the cane occurs

in about September-October but it would be uneconomical to restrict the season to these two months hence it it spread more or less equally about these tvro months and various types of adjustments made in growing conditions and breeding to obtain marginal parts of the season. improvements during the early and latter

It is also recognised that for the best sucrose development, certain climatic criteria need to be realized during say August-October, bright sunshine and cool nights but not frosts, preferably not below 10-15 .

92 In some countries where these conditions do not prevail, it has been found that a temporary lowering of the water table at this time is beneficial for sucrose development.

When it comes to growing sugar cane for ethanol production, these criteria are of much less importance. The change in total sugar content

of the cane is less than the change in sucrose content and any of the hexose sugars in sugar cane are suitable for making ethanol.

SEASONAL CONSIDERATIONS In Queensland the growing of sugar cane is looked on as a crop to be harvested annually between about mid-June and mid-December dictated largely by the period of maximum maturity as measured in terms of crystallizable sugar and the size of the crop relative to the capacity of the mill. Larger crops in relation to the capacity of the mill are

handled by lengthening the season and in 1975 the season lasted from 26th May 1975 to 10th January 1976 or 229 days. If we look specifically

at the northern district which is the most likely to be affected by wet weather during this period the season lasted from 17th June 1975 to 8th January 1976 or 205 days.

On an average the northern district could expect rain to fall on 61 days (30% of total) and to lose about 14% of crushing time for this reason. If the season were to be extended to operate from 1st April to

31st December and it be assumed that wet days in April are twice as effective in causing lost time at the mill as those normally experienced then the total lost time could be expected to increase to 17%. This is

considered to be an acceptable figure for the benefits of an extended season in the ethanol industry.

There would undoubtedly be a period during which the fermentable sugar potential of the cane is at its peak, but this is believed likely to be less prominent than the peak for crystallizable sugar.

The social benefits of a longer season are significant in that a 9 month or 275 day season would enable a large proportion of the work force to be employed on a continuing basis if we allow one month for vacation and two months for work on maintenance. The added job security

should make it possible to obtain better contracts with appropriate unions. In return the operatives would be expected to work during week

ends and public holidays and to minimize industrial unrest.

The wet season normally commences in early January and ends in early April, and these two dates would largely determine the effective operational period available.

The following time allocation emerges:-

Crushing season Maintenance Annual holidays Wet weather allowance Scheduled maintenance Non-scheduled maintenance Operational time

275 days gross 59 31 17% 2% 4% 77% = 212 days

,: ::

Under these conditions a crop of 2MTe could be processed operating at 400 Te/hr or 9,600 Te/day (nominal).

Average current operating conditions would indicate a crop total of 1.22MTe being processed at the same hourly rate.

94 The longer season and fuller working times would indicate an ability to process an additional 64% of cane. A close study of wage

structures and present overtime and slack season employment would need to be carried out in order to establish patterns of labour cost which might be expected. Also the effects on available fermentable sugars

in cane that would be experienced would require careful assessment.

The effects of a longer harvesting period would also be reflected in the employment opportunities in the field. There would be direct

effects on the period of employment for those concerned with cane harvesting and transport. The cultivation of ratoon crops would also be

spread out but there would probably be little effect on planting or irrigation schedules. There would need to be better organization of

maintenance schedules for mechanical equipment employed in these operations.

The thermal losses incurred as the result of interruptions in operation are quite significant and equipment of the type used in distilleries may be more seriously affected than corresponding equipment used in raw sugar manufacture. In the raw sugar industry in Queensland,

as long as there is bagasse to burn, the unfavourable thermal affects of the week-end closure of the plant is not taken very seriously. In

fact surplus bagasse has been an embarrassment over the past 15 years and it has not been difficult to adopt a prodigal attitude towards thermal conservation proposals. The situation with an ethanol distillery is

not expected to be quite so simple, at least the fine points of efficient operation will be less clearly understood until appropriate experience is gained in the industry.

95 SUNSHINE REQUIREMENTS FOR GROWING SUGAR CANE BOth sunshine and rain are needed to grow sugar cane, the one will not work effectively without the other. However, vre will look at each

in turn in order to obtain an estimate of the contribution which each makes.

The sunshine is the source of energy for the photogenetic chlorophyll cells contained in the leaves and which are responsible for catalysing the combination of carbon dioxide and water in the first of a series of steps which with the aid of enzymes go to produce the sugars and other components of the plant. by The first recognisable substance produced

photosynthesis appears within a matter of seconds as 2-phosphoglyceric

acid, phosphates being required in the plant juices to help initiate the process.

Experiments with sugar cane have indicated that maximum photosynthesis occurs in the blue wave lengchs at *+80nm for most types with additional absorption peaks at the red end of the spectrum between 620 and 640nm and at 670nm.

Tropical skies have some limitations regarding sunshine due to cloud cover and summer days which are relatively short compared with those experienced in higher latitude temperate zones. There is some compensation

with longer winter days with less cloud cover, but 7 5 to 80% of the sugar cane weight is developed between vernal and autumnal equinox.

Sugar cane grows very well in Queensland and exceptionally well in the Burdekin district. Some years ago the Bureau of Sugar Experiment

Stations carried out experiments in the Bundaberg district aiming to determine the maximum amount of cane which could be grown per hectare given the very best conditions of water and fertilizer. A figure of 222 tonnes/ The stalk is

hectare of stalk cane was achieved in these experiments.

96 about 32.5% of organic substances or 72 Te/ha. But the stalk is only

about 45% of the whole cane including the root system so that the total effect of photosynthesis would be to produce 159Te/ha of organic substances. In the Burdekin district even higher yields are not uncommon

experiences among the best farmers with stalk yields of 275Te/ha or total yields approaching 200 tonnes of dry organic substances. These figures

may or may not be beatable but for the time being they might be accepted as target figures and other achievements rated as a percentage of the target figure.

Current average achievements in the Bundaberg district are nearer 86Te/ha or 39% of the achievable target. It is common experience for

the best farmers in an area to obtain 50 to 60% better values than the average and for the best district in Queensland to be 50 to 60% better than the average for Queensland.

In Table XIII are set out data endeavouring to estimate the efficiency of the cane growing procedure. As well as the actual and

estimated production figures, calculations have also been made of the most likely production of total organic material including the tops and the leaves about 78% of which would be hexose carbohydrate, about 8.5% of lignin and a similar proportion pentosans, the balance being protein, wax and fats and other organic substances. This has involved a certain

measure of guesswork but the figures obtained are believed to be a useful first approximation.

Furthermore estimates have been made of the integrated daily solar radiation useful for photosynthesis. Actual values are known for Brisbane It is

to range between 14.6 and 32 MJ m -2d -1 of total solar radiation.

also believed that only about 50% of this is useful for photosynthesis.

98 It appears therefore that the sugar cane can use around 8% of the available useful solar energy for the photosynthesis of organic substances over the period between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes when up to 80% of total growth takes place. On the average in Queensland it actually

uses about 2.7% which is about three times as efficient as most members of the plant kingdom.

The best man-made solar cells do not yet seem to have an efficiency better than 10% and many are still around the 2% mark. Hence the sugar

cane does function well as a solar absorber if it is properly tended, albeit within restricted wave length bands.

It has been reported that sugar cane along with certain other tropical grasses possesses an additional enzyme system not found in temperate type grasses or cereals and which provides it with the facility to transfer solar energy into carbohydrate more efficiently.

Sugar cane belongs to the so-called C-4- group of plants which have been observed to have a photOsynthetic capability exceeding that in the so-called Calvin-cycle plants by a factor of 2 to 3.

Fundamental studies are being carried out in Puerto Rico aiming to determine breeding characteristics of sugar cane with respect to its photosensitivity. It has been reported that blue sensitivity is

consistently high from the oldest to the youngest species whereas the older species show rather higher red sensitivity than the younger species although there is a recurrence of red sensitivity in certain types of modern hybrids. The natural photosynthesis employs only a small fraction

of the solar radiation spectrum and any means for extending the range of use should be equally as acceptable as increasing absorption efficiency at known existing ranges of wave length.

99 Almost all of the active chlorophyl containing cells are located in the leaves of the top of the plant and are part of a complex of chromophores in which chlorophyl a and b are recognised as well as carotenoids in the absorbance spectra of sugar cane leaves. Carotenoids

are yellow pigments which occur with chlorophyll in the chloroplasts within the leaf.

Heavy increases in productivity per unit area are frequently viewed with some suspicion as the carbohydrate is not necessarily the currently desired crystallizable sugar. It is felt that this should be of less

importance when growing for ethanol production than when crystal sugar is to be the end product.

WATER REQUIREMENTS FOR GROWING SUGAR CANE Perhaps the most important statement that could be made with respect to the water1 requirements of sugar cane is that the soil should be well drained and fields should be adequately protected from floods. The fact

that sugar cane seldom dies completely when it is inundated with flood waters probably accounts for the fact that there are still flood prone areas of sugar cane growing land in Queensland. Flood prevention is

costly and certain areas of flood prone land have been unfortunately selected, although they probably do produce heavily in betvreen visitations of floods.

Water logged root systems are not in the best interests of healthy plant development.

From simple observation it is evident that very often tractors and cane harvesters are unable to operate, not because of a general wetness of the soil but because of boggy patches in badly drained areas. The

correction of these drainage problems could well decrease the unavailable time for using this equipment by as much as 30 to 40%. This in turn has

100 a beneficial effect as far as the milling of the cane is concerned in reducing the amount of time lost due to wet weather. The cost factor

related to time lost by the milling plant and factory is quite substantial and any money spent in the field which is able to reduce this lost time is of appreciable financial significance.

The possibility of using field equipment employing some aspect of the hovercraft principle has been studied seriously by sugar industry leaders in areas of high rainfall but up-to-date costs have been considered too high. Tracked vehicles rather than rubber tyred units

have also been examined and at times are used in various parts of the world.

The cost of an effective drainage system and preparing properly drained fields should be part of the capital development cost and maintenance part of the cost of soil preparation in the annual cycle of cultivation.

If field drainage is not properly achieved in the initial preparation of the field it is difficult to make satisfactory corrections during the course of field usage. Because it is customary in Australia

(and reputedly economically the most suited) to grow two ratoon crops following a plant crop and allow a fallow season it is possible to work on any particular section of land only once every four years for the purpose of correcting drainage problems.

When considering the amount of water required for growing sugar cane the question arises - how do we assess it? General experience seems

to indicate that for growing under natural rainfall conditions a precipitation of 1.5 to 1.6m is needed of which around 80% should fall between the two equinoxes and not too much during the latter part of the harvesting season in October/November, or say 70% between early December and early April.

101 There have been experiments carried out in various countries aimed at determining the optimum amount of v/ater and the optimum time of application and for devising techniques of measurement to enable the application of supplementary water in the form of irrigation to be applied under more scientific control, with varying degrees of success.

There is a rule-of-thumb criterion often quoted in the industry that "it takes a ton of water to make a pound of sugar". If we examine this in

terms of a 90Te/ha of cane at 15.3% sugar and a water supply of 1.6m we see that this means 0.86 kg sugar/kl water. If it referred to crystallizable The

sugar it would be closer to 0.77 kg/kl or 1.7 lb. sugar/ton water.

rule-of-thumb is actually rather close to the 1 lb/ton ratio in other sugar cane growing countries where the production of sugar in the field is less efficiently accomplished for reasons which are not perfectly clear.

However, if we use a figure of 0.86 kg sucrose/kl water as a first approximation representation of conditions experienced in Queensland, we can make some interesting observations consequent upon this.

The sugar cane itself is made up of approximately 69% water in the liquid phase and a further quantity as water of chemical constitution in the carbohydrates. nearer 82 to 84%. A total accounting would place the water content

As we have already seen the stalk represents only about 4 5% of the whole of the plant including the root system, a hectare of land producing 90Te of stalk would have grown 200Te of total cane holding up 166Te of water in various forms. Thus 10.4 kg of water would be retained in the

plant for every kilolitre applied - an efficiency of usage by the plant of about 1%.

We do know that the sugar cane grows with a very high rate of respiration which is believed to contribute very largely to its favourable growth characteristics. The water is absorbed by the growing cane through

the root system, travels up through the stalk to the leaves and then evaporate from the surface of the leaves, most of which are at the top of the stalk. A proportion of the water supplied to the plant disappears by percolation through the soil and is lost in the drainage system. This is in fact a

very important part of the growing process as can be well established by anyone attempting to grow a plant in an impervious pot without a drainage hole.

There is also water evaporated from the surface from the soil.


proportion which is lost from the system in this way is at a maximum during the early growing stages and gradually becomes less as the canopy of leaves covers the field.

It is necessary to avoid water-logging on the one hand and dessication on the other. If 85% of the water applied, passes through the plant in

the process of respiration and plant synthesis this would indicate 84% to be dissipated in the atmosphere to increase the humidity in the immediate vicinity of the plant and gradually disperse and natural convection. into the atmosphere by turbulent

We might say that sugar cane is not very efficient as a plant in its use of water but this is the penalty which seems necessary for a high rate of growth, i.e. for a high degree of photosynthetic efficiency.

Studies of the efficiency of application of water to sugar cane tend to the view that there may well be a lesser proportion of water actually passing through the plant. Whilst it is difficult to define application

efficiency, figures for furrow application have been quoted of the order of 40% with up to 70% for spray application. Drip irrigation either on the

103 surface or below the surface is even more economical in water usage which would tend to indicate that perhaps not more than 10 times as much water actually passes through the plant as is retained in plant synthesis.

The questions then become - how much water can be usefully applied to grow sugar cane, how much does it cost and how much sugar does it produce?

The value of water is probably not linear with respect to total carbohydrate produced but as a simplification if we consider it being so we can look at the cost benefit of an irrigation supplement.

Estimates have been given for the costs and capacities for several dam installations on the Burdekin River in the 1977 Burdekin River Basin report. It is difficult to know just how to charge the capital cost

against water supplied3 especially if there is to be associated hydro-electric power generation. An amortization at a 5% interest rate over a period of

75 years requires an annual payment of 5.13% on capital cost which is used as the basis for this calculation.

Taking the average estimate for four such dams with a storage capacity of 1500 Gl and an annual supply of 400 Gl, the cost is of the order of $50m to deliver water at 0.64-C/kl. This may be compared with a small

irrigation project developed at Eton in the Central district in 1973 for a capital cost of $10.15m and providing a supply of around 30G1. value of the water would be 1.74c/kl. The equivalent

The annual operating cost for

delivering the water to the farm in this latter case works out at 0.33c/kl.

Low initial cost of water especially associated with a high price for sugar tends to favour furrow techniques which themselves have the lowest capital cost of alternative application systems. High initial cost of water

tends to favour spray irrigation and very high costs to favour underground permeation techniques.

104 The amount of water which a man can handle with furrow irrigation has been reported as around 300 1/sec (approximately 10 cu.secs.). an agricultural labour cost at $5/man-hr. 2.16c/kl. With

This would be equivalent to

We could then look at a cost figure around 3c/kl from dam to root. In conditions comparable to those experienced in the Burdekin district where experience indicates that the yields of cane are at the rate of about 100 Te/ha for 1 m of effective water supplied. With useful

natural rainfall of 0.5 m crops averaging 130 Te cane/ha would require 1.6m as irrigation at 50% effectiveness of application or $3.69/Te cane.

With spray irrigation this might be reduced to $2.50 if the effectiveness is increased to 70% and perhaps around $2 with highly effective drip type of application.

If the credit for the irrigation be on a pro-rata basis and the cane be valued at $10/tonne it would show a cost-benefit for irrigation in excess of 100%.

105 FERTILIZER NEEDS IN SUGAR CANE CULTURE There are three chemical nutrients of main importance in growing sugar cane which are the elements nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

In a continuing system a balance must be maintained between nutrients removed at harvest and those added during the growing cycle. When considering

the development of a new area whether from forest or grassland in which nature has been recycling on a continuing basis there is usually a good supply of available nutrient. In modest cropping plants use about 10% of the

available nutrient supply and with heavy cropping this rapidly becomes depleted. Sugar cane cropping creates a heavy drain on soil nutrients for

three main reasons:-

(a) (b)

leaching of the soil by rainfall or irrigation soil erosion physically transferring soil from the field to neighbouring watercourses


the transfer of cane from field to factory

The effect of the first two is minimised by good cultural practices. The effect of the third can be estimated from a knowledge of the general composition of sugar cane especially of the millable stalk. For every

100 tonnes of millable stalk there are about 80 tonnes of green leaf and tops. With mechanical harvesting as currently practised the latter are For a crop of 90

comminuted and redistributed at random over the field.

tonnes/ha of millable stalk some 55 kg of N will be removed or O.Skg/Te cane; 36kg of P 2 5 or 0.4 k g / T e cane and 72 kg of K 2 0 or 0.8kg/Te cane.

The tops and trash contain rather more at 126. 55 and 300kg/ha respectively. It can be seen that the return of the nutrients in the tops and trash plays an important part in the economic management of the soil.

106 The total nutrient removed in the chemical form mentioned above is 1.8 kg/Te cane but in the form of fertilizer for renewal it would amount to about 3.6 to 4- kg. In actual fact the total fertilizer usage

is closer to 10 kg/Te cane, which represents not only replenishment of stalk removal losses but a significant excess. 2 kg/Te cane. Overall use of N is

When new ground is brought into production there may not be just the right kinds of nutrients present in the right amounts and some adjustments become necessary until an equilibrium is reached between fertilizer removed and fertilizer added.

The crude average cost of fertilizer is around 13 c/kg or $1.30/Te cane, which includes a Commonwealth Government bounty on N and P fertilizers.

In the Burdekin area with heavy cropping the recommendations are for 135 kgN/ha for a plant crop to supplement the fallow cover crop contribution and 210 kg N/ha for the ratoon crops. There seems to be little or no need

for P and K to be added once the level has been adjusted in new land development, for example in the new land of the Barratta area initial amounts of 45 kg P and 135 kg K/ha seem to be needed but progressively reduced.

Legume fallow crops are capable of retaining up to 220 kgN/ha which should be sufficient to provide the requirements of the plant crop.

Whilst there are several waste products from a raw sugar factory which can usefully be recycled to the farm there would really only be two from an ethanol distillery. the bagasse furnaces. These are the distillery slops and the ashes from

107 The ash resulting from the combustion of the bagasse contains minor amounts of P 2 5 and k2o but is rich in silica (65-70%) usually in a form which can be readily absorbed by the plant to provide its needs in what is essentially a minor but nevertheless, important element for plant nutrition.

The amount of ash was at one time about 2% of the dry matter of bagasse or about 3 kg/Te cane, but with the advent of mechanical harvesting this can go up to as much as 8 or 12 due to dirt which is picked up in the harvesting operation. For the ash to be useful as a plant nutrient it needs This is now generally the case With the

to be friable in character and not fused.

with present day furnaces in which burning is done in suspension.

older type hearth furnaces, there was a tendency for varying portions of the ash to fuse to a glass in which form it is virtually useless as a fertilizer. With quantities as much as 8 to 12 kg/Te cane being removed from the fields there would seem to be merit in returning a larger proportion than currently is the case as this represents significant depletion over a period of yeai&.

The effluent from a sugar cane/ethanol plant should be more easily recycled than the corresponding effluent from a molasses/ethanol plant since bagasse is available as a fuel for evaporation to enable it to be concentrated to a more convenient form for recycling. Also it is more convenient than a sugar

cane/raw sugar plant in that the corresponding effluent in this case is molasses which is extraordinarily difficult to distribute on the fields at a low enough rate per hectare. Furthermore 50% of the molasses consists of sugars which

do have value as animal food or as a substrate for fermentation but no value as a fertilizer.

If the distillery slops are concentrated to a form in which they are recycled to the ratoon crops which forms only two thirds of the sugar crop. Statistics indicate that actually about 72% of the area harvested is in the form of ratoon cane and 27% plant cane with about 1% of standover. It is

estimated that about 80% of the plant nutrients removed from the field in

108 the stalk would be in the distillery slops and should provide adequate replenishment for 72% of the cultivated area.

Although a number of European distilleries operating on sugar beets or potatoes have for many years evaporated and recycled distillery slops for fertilizer, some preliminary experimental work would appear to be desirable starting with sugar cane juice in order to obtain some information about the physical properties of the effluent as well as its chemical composition.

Since the area from the second ratoon crop becomes the fallow land for the next season and the area from which the plant crop was removed becomes the first ratoon for the next season. In fact in a M- yearly rotation cycle

the gross area must be subdivided into 4 equal areas if the cycle is to be correctly maintained. However, some cane must be sacrificed to provide This is usually taken from

plant material for the next season's plant crop.

a stand of plant cane - hence the smaller proportion of plant cane supplied to the mill.

As already indicated legume cover crops can supply as much N for the plant crop as 2-2.5 kg/Te cane. The total nitrogen content of leaves and

tops from a tonne of stalk cane is about 0.9 kg/Te stalk but if a fire is put through the field before harvesting as is the current practice then perhaps 20 to 30% of this would be lost. Rain and non-symbiotic fixation sources

can add as much as 0.4 kg/Te cane but between 0.05 and 1 kg can be lost by leaching.

If water is supplied by furrow or drip irrigation instead of by spray or by rain then the aerial nitrogen component is proportionately reduced and any over-irrigation will increase the loss by leaching.

109 It would seem to be quite practicable for the cycle to become self sufficient with respect to IT requirements and 80% of its P and K with the additional 20% being available in the bagasse ash which might be able to be mixed with the slops.

There would be a cost component to the transport of slops concentrate back to the fields and its distribution. With slops solids at about

2 kg/Te cane a cost of 8/Te cane would be $*+0/Te slops solids and this is probably the kind of figure that should be postulated until such time as more specific information is available on the chemical composition and physical properties of the concentrated slops.

UNIT OPERATIONS IN SUGAR CANE AGRICULTURE The type of work which has to be carried out on the farm for the production of sugar cane may be studies from the point of view of unit operations. The idea of unit process studied has been implied in

discussions on the effects of sunshine, rain and fertilizers in which chemical reactions are involved with materials and energy balances playing important roles in quantitative studies.

The sugar cane farm is in fact the real factory where the sucrose and other carbohydrates are made together with all of the associated chemical entities. The sugar mill and factory merely employ the unit

operations of extraction, concentration and crystallization with some unit process as well as operations studied in purification. There are in fact,

few chemical processes during these stages and of relative simplicity compared to the highly complex chemistry of plant physiology.

The unit operations identified in relation to producing sugar cane


Ground preparation (a) Primary (b) Secondary (c) Tert iary



(a) cutting of plant material (b) preparation of plant material (c) planting


Water requirements (a) drainage (b) irr igat ion



5. 6. 7. Chemical treatments Harvesting Transport of Cane (a) from field (b) to factory 8. 9. 10. Ratoon preparation Equipment maintenance Sundry

The opinion is expressed that each of these unit operations would yield to the same type of scientific study as has successfully been applied to the factory in such areas as time and motion study, equipment maintenance schedules and the amount of mechanical energy which can effectively be put at the disposal of an operator as well as the efficient use of this energy.

The twentieth century has seen the progressive mechanisation of all types of operations in farming for crops or animal husbandry. One factor which has become particularly pertinent in these studies has been the size of the property and added to this have been the importance of efficient farm management and the devising of effective and efficient maintenance schedules for the equipment employed. The pattern for the

size of farms for growing sugar cane in Queensland was set at the time of federation at the beginning of the century and not much more than marginal changes have been made since that time to keep in step with the very substantial degree of mechanisation which has taken place. Before examining mechanization in general and the various unit operations in particular we will consider the farm area factor in the context of a newly developed ethanol industry.

112 SIZE OF A SUGAR CANE FARM In order to achieve, for raw sugar, an orderly marketing programme the policy was established for allowing sugar cane to be grown only on land assigned for the purpose. This also facilitated the identification

and control of diseases in the crops, a factor which has been of very substantial importance in maintaining a viable sugar industry in this country. There have been many discussions on the relative merits of

controlling the area of land a farmer may work or the amount of potential sugar he may produce. Both aspects have had to be considered and a high Many important lessons are to be

measure of success has been achieved.

learned from the experiences of the sugar industry in maintaining stability at all levels of operation. One very valuable result of controlling

the area of land has been to encourage increases in productivity, which combined with the quality oriented cane payment system has done much to develop the very high standards achieved in these matters in Queensland.

As at 30th June 1976, a total of 325,000 hectares of land were assigned as the gross area permitted for the growing of sugar cane and subdivided into about 7300 units. The precise number of units was not

published in the 1977 Australian Sugar Year Book but numbers were previously published and variations from year to year are only marginal. There is some multiple ownership but very little. therefore 44.5 ha, The average unit is

At the time of rationalization of the industry at the turn of the century - concurrent with federation - the policy was adopted to discourage large plantation type holdings and encourage as many persons as possible to become farmers provided a viable unit size can be maintained. This policy has been maintained and there are today only

the estates of the CSR Co. at Kalamia and of the Bundaberg Sugar Co. having a combined total of the order of 5000 ha which has only a second decimal influence on the average assignment unit.

113 It may be pointed out that political observers in other states have not been particularly impressed with the degree of protection received during the first half of the century by fewer than 10,000 farmers along the coast of tropical Queensland. Larger numbers would only have meant

smaller and less viable unit assignments requiring even more protection to keep the coastal strip inhabited.

The average unit size of the assignment is as much as one man can work on his own. and discussion. That this is so has been checked by personal observation It is necessary to employ two persons for planting cane

as this requires the operation of a cane planter unable to be operated together with the tractor by one man. contract. His harvesting is done by

The unit assignment would produce around 2900Te cane and be paid $20/Te to provide a gross income of $58,000. Included in this are some

costs of which we already have an indication, e.g. $1/Te cane for average watering costs, $1 for fertilizer and we will see later that it costs around $1 to harvest and deliver to the mill transport system. employment of labour may amount to another $1. Sundry

This would leave $46,400

to pay for his capital costs, maintenance of equipment, chemicals and his own family support.

A sugar cane farmer enjoys a relatively stable life style and bankruptcies are unusual. No one should wish to tamper with the existing

structure for sugar production.

Ethanol costing from sugar cane on the other hand would be highly competitive with alternative energy supplies on the one hand and with sugar for food consumption on the other and if to be embarked upon on a worthwhile scale new concepts of sugar cane culture will need to be studied seriously.

114 Increase in the size of farms has proceeded in parallel with mechanization in other agricultural areas especially in the U.S.A. where the wheat industry is now perhaps the most advanced in this type of production enabling costs to remain competitive in spite of the escalation of wages. The cane sugar industry outside of Australia is not a

particularly good one to study from the point of view of mechanization in agriculture because of its operations very largely being associated with low labour cost countries. The sugar beet industry, on the other

hand, has developed a very sophisticated degree of mechanization in England and certain other areas of Western Europe as well as in the U.S.A. and Canada, where the human hand does little more than drive a tractor from seed time to harvest.

Although sophisticated mechanization may not be common in sugar cane growing overseas there are many examples of very large estate operations.

One example may be quoted describing an overseas situation just to give a picture of what is involved in establishing operations on an estate which is considered large in terms of growing sugar cane. This refers to

a factory and related estate to provide cane during the season at a nominal rate of 18,000 Te/day. This is probably the largest sugar cane factory

at present operating in any country in the world, and is located in Argentina, although there has been one of similar size projected for the Sudan. The establishment in Argentina involves a plantation of 30,000ha The sugar factory itself

to produce an annual crop of 2.5m Te cane.

produces 275,000Te sugar (70% refined, 30% raw) and has a plant for processing surplus bagasse to cellulose and paper pulp with annual production of 34,O0OTe as well as an ethanol distillery of 32 Ml annual capacity. There is a staff of 300 professionals and technicians with

6000 employees and 7000 temporary labourers employed for the annual harvesting. The services for operating the complex include main

irrigation canals of 250 km and more than 1000 km of irrigation ditches.

115 There are the workshops and warehouses, a powerhouse with a 50 Mw capacity, a 250 km industrial railroad, a 500 km road network, 500 tractors, 160 cars, 1 jet, administration offices and laboratories, 3 computer units, 2 small towns, 1 hospital, primary and technical schools, social centres and so on. The industrial administrative and service buildings occupy an area of 16.5 ha. Such an installation is a massive undertaking requiring

substantial expertise for its efficient running.

The cane growing area associated with a particular factory is of necessity related to the processing capacity of the factory which by convention is rated in terms of tonnes of cane milled per day of 23 hours of operating time - 4.17% lost time is implied. world-wide vary from about 6,000 to 18,000 Te c.d. Current installations Because of the lower

yielding canes in other countries the corresponding sugar production is proportionately lower.

The logistics simply of harvesting and transporting cane at the rate of 18,000 Te/day are of a magnitude still well beyond Australian experience although not necessarily beyond Australian capability.

The mill which is at present the largest in Queensland comparison, would be nominally rated at 8500 Te c.d., operates two tandems of mills in parallel. There have been installations of 6500 to 9000 Te c.d. in

recent years in Thailand and Malaysia as well as in South American and African countries. A spate of building new mills coincided with the

rise of sugar prices which broke towards the end of 1974.

A mill designed for a nominal capacity of 10,000 Te c.d. or 435 Te will be considered here as a basis for study as to what would be involved for new factory development for ethanol production. The

operational period previously indicated of 212 days would be reduced to 200 days if the above average rate of operation is achieved. This would

refer to a crop of 2 MTe for which a gross growing area of 30 t O00 ha would be

The view is expressed that it would be uneconomical to split this up into 600 unit areas each operated by an owner farmer, but that a minimum unit area of 500 ha would be more suited to an owner farmer. For these studies a 1600 ha property is used as a unit size as it divides usefully into 4 x 400 ha sub-units and 22 such properties constitute 35,200 ha which is a suitable area unit or estate.

An important problem arising for individual ownership of a large farm is the capital cost. The more successful farmers could conceivably

grow by a factor of 10 in a free enterprise competitive economy with the other 9 being financially unable to keep in business. Large company

ownership would however look to not less than 5000 ha and more likely to the 35,000 ha estate.

A new industry of this character would not be a haven for bankrupt farmers from other rural areas nor an emotional answer to pools of unemployment. The minimum skill would be that of a tractor driver, cane

planter or irrigator.

Large estate scale of operation does not necessarily mean higher productivities per unit area unless some new feature is introduced. fact it has been general experience in most agricultural vegetative industries that unit productivity falls off with increase in scale of operation. The reasons for this are that personal concern is lowered In the sugar cane industry, productivity In

and mistakes are more costly.

of 90 Te cane/ha for a 50 ha unit could be expected to fall to around 80 Te/ha for a 30,000 ha unit and the growing area really required would be closer to 34,000 ha.

The following general relationship between productivity and unit area of growing has been found useful in the writer's experience with respect to sugar cane growing:-

117 Area 0.0184 ( old.) Area new

Prod new


a old

If there are changes in cultural techniques, additional appropriate factors must be applied.

Ten units of 35,000 ha would be equivalent to one present Queensland sugar industry (QSI unit) and 3 QSI units would be 30 area units for the same number of sugar mills as there are operating in Queensland at the present day, with 185 Ml of ethanol to be expected from each growing area to replace 40% of Australia's current petrol consumption - a million hectare development.

Better guidelines for estimating the relative merits of 500, 5000 or 35000 ha unit management areas will emerge as some cost factors are generated for land development and cultivation.

The cost of a farm in new country represents the cost of land acquisition plus the cost of preparation. Economics should develop with

larger scale of operations but a 35,000 ha unit would appear to be a convenient one for these considerations.

NEW LAND DEVELOPMENTS The cost of developing new land will depend heavily on the type of land selected. Forest land may provide very good soil for cultivation In other countries a great deal of

but it is expensive to develop.

forest land has been cleared for sugar cane cultivation but paid for from the value of the timber removed usually with a profit margin to spare.

The view is submitted that in Queensland further extensive development be considered in savannah country, although there are still limited areas

118 in Cardwell and Cooktown districts which might provide 35,000 or 70,000 ha each, but for million hectare development it would be worthwhile looking at the Gulf country. Admittedly;, the southern end of this area

is of low natural rainfall (0.5-0.75m) and is subject to flooding on an annual basis. Irrigation would become essential but there are many rivers Along the western side of the Gulf

although suitable gorges may be few.

of Carpentaria the annual rainfall progressively increases to reach a peak of 1.7m at Cape York, but at some places north of the 1.3m isohyte bauxite soils are encountered which are generally considered of low fertility, but some day they may grow sugar cane well.

It is not proposed here to consider specific land development in more detail but to use a set of figures which are believed to have some relevance and adjustments may be made as and when desired to suit selected sets of conditions.

Million hectare developments mean developing Queensland and to convert $20/ha-yr country to $1000/ha-yr cropping represents a responsible recognition of the value of land in a world of expanding population.

The costs of land development for cultivation of this value status represents a permanent improvement for the country and amortization under conditions comparable with those for dams and irrigation works such as 75 years @ 5% or 5.13% p.a. which could well involve a leasehold arrangement with the operator.

Infra-structure involves roads, electricity and telephone supplies, new town and community facilities, sewage and potable water servicing and reticulation, situations comparable in many respects with those experienced for developments in new mining undertakings. Whereas mines are a wasting

asset no matter how long their life may be, agricultural land is always a developing asset.

A gross 35,000 ha area development is expected to cost something of the order of $250 m for the land, the component items recognised being:-

Item Land development 300 km roads Drainage and flood mitigation Town services Irrigation dam and channels Unidentified costs Total estimated development costs ^

$ x 10~ 6 35 ($1000/ha) 15 ($50,000/km) 100 20 60 (2m = 525Gl/yr) 20

Although much of the town services costs could be recouped as rates and service fees from residents as could the cost of housing which might run to $20m.

CAPITAL REPAYMENT ALTERNATIVES It is evident that highly mechanised farming is a capital intensive undertaking and that the ultimate cost of ethanol will be sensitive to error or variations in the capital cost of developing the land even more than the capital cost of the processing equipment.

The interest rate of 5% related to monies required for area development and infrastructure is probably unrealistic in the 1977 context of interest rates unless special government financial provision is extended. A more

realistic interest rate would be 11% for government sponsored borrowing or 20% if private development is expected.

A repayment term of 75 years may not be unrealistic for permanent type land and infrastructure development but a 25 year life is probably as long as

120 should be expected for the processing plant and a 5 year life for agricultural machinery.

The high interest rates of 1977 make the financing of new developments of this character very difficult to undertake if uniform rates of amortization are employed.

It is suggested that thought be given to indexing the capital and interest repayments under conditions comparable to those existing with wages and the price of the product.

An element of risk lies in predicting future escalation in wages and prices but we can achieve some modifying of this risk if we view such changes over a long period of time. For example over a period of 4 0 years

(1936/76) the retail price of sugar and petrol have each increased by an average of about 3-1/ 4% per annum whereas the basic or minimum wage has increased by nearer 7% with increases in the prices of eggs and bread

averaging something like 61/2%.

We are on more shaky ground if we attempt to predict the occurrence of calamities such as war, earthquakes, major floods or major droughts but we can use figures predicting the probability of such happenings.

One way in which indexation of capital repayments could be implemented is set out here by way of an example and a set of figures is given in Table XIV. In this table are listed several options, viz.

repayment periods of 20, 40 or 75 years associated with interest rates of 5, 11 or 20% on outstanding capital. Four levels of indexation of

repayments are listed at 0 (i.e. equal annual repayments), 3, 5 or 7%.

Indexation of capital repayments could allow up to 10 years for the establishment of operations under favourable conditions. The object of

the exercise is to endeavour to maintain the ratio of capital repayments

121 to price of product at a constant value. This is unlikely to be achieved Petrol

every year in say 75 but there should be a long term evening out.

which is retailed at 16C/1 in 1977 could well be expected to be $1.48 in the year 2052 (3% p.a. increase) were there no special circumstances of supply shortages to accelerate this happening to as early as the year 2010 (0 7% p.a. increase), or may be even earlier. An intermediate indexation rate

of 5% would be very helpful and provide a margin for hope that the rate of price increase could be kept down to this figure. By the year 2010 the

industry should be well able to afford to pay the higher rate of capital repayment.

With the method of indexation calculated here the total amount of money repaid in interest is kept at the same figure for the same amount of capital irrespective of the degree of indexation which might be adopted. The full capital debt is also assumed to be repaid in the same period of time and this sum is included in the periodical payments. A column,

however, is given to indicate the amount of interest, only, which would be repaid over the period indicated.

Several other figures are listed b y way of interest viz. the payments which would be expected at the end of the first, third and sixth years, when half way through the payment period and the payment which would be required in the last year.

The manner in which the figures for Table XIV have been calculated are set out and include a formula for calculating the payment which would be expected for any selected year of interest.

Other methods of repayments of capital and assessment of interest are possible and may be used as desired.

122 METHODS OF CALCULATION FOR TABLE XIV Let C = capital debt ($100 for Table XIV) R = repayment in equal amounts for equal time intervals i = interest rate (uniform throughout period) n = number of time intervals - years r = rate of indexation x = a particular year selected for inspection of repayment rate

TABLE XIV TABULATED INDEXED CAPITAL REPAYMENT RATES Annual payments per $100 of capital investment - combined repayment of principal and interest.

Repayment 1 Index - %

Interest Rate - % \

Total payments in specific years 1st year 3rd year j 6th year median year 20.54 20.01 20.00 20.54 20.01 20.00 20.54 20.01 20.00

Completion Situation last payment 20.54 20.01 20.00 number of years 20 40 75

Total Interest Paid


20.54 20.01 20.00

311 701 1400


12.56 11.17 11.00 8.02 5.83 5.13 15.29 10.62 3.85 9.34 5.92 3.03 5.97 3.09 1.41

12.56 11.17 11.00 8,02 5.83 5.13 16.71 11.60 6.02 10.22 6.48 3.31 i 6.53 3.38 1.55

12.56 11.17 11.00 8.02 5.83 5.13 18.25 12.68 6.57 11.17 7.08 3.62 7.13 3.69 1,69

12.56 11.17 11.00 8.02 5.83 5.13 20.54 19.18 16.67 12.57 10.70 9.17 8.02 5.58 4.27

12.56 11.17 11.00 8.02 5.83 5.13 27.60 34.63 50.50 16.38 19.33 27.79 10.78 10.08 12.96

20 40 75 20 40 75 20 40 75 20 40 75 20 40 75

151 347 725 60.50 133 285


| 701 1400 151 347 725 60.50 133 285


5 j

Repayment Index - %

Interest Rate - %

Total payments in specific years 1st year 3rd year 6th year median year

Completion Situation last payment number of years

Total Interest Paid


12.42 6.63 1.98

14.37 7.68 2.30

16.64 8.88 2.66

20.23 17.59 12.36

32,96 46.65 76.99

20 40 75

311 701 1400


7.59 3.70 1.09

8.79 4.28 1.26

10.17 4.96 1.46

12.37 9.82 6.79

20.15 26.04 42.36

20 40 75

151 347 725

4.85 1.93 0.50

5.62 2,24 0.59

6,50 2.58 0.68

7.91 5.12 3.17

12.87 13.59 19.75

20 40 75

60.50 133 285


10.02 4.01 0.66

12.27 4.91 0.81

15.02 6.01 1.00

19.71 15.52 8,36

38.77 60.05 105.66

20 40 75

311 701 1400


6.13 2.20 0.36

7.50 2.74 0.45

9.19 3.36 0.55

12.05 8.67 4.60

23.71 33.52 58.13

20 40 75

151 347 725

3.92 1.17 0.17

4.79 1.43 0.20

5.87 1.75 0.26

7.70 4.52 2.14

15.16 17.48 27.11

20 40 75

1 |

60.50 133 285

125 ESTIMATED COST OF MECHANICAL COMPONENT OF FARM UNIT OPERATIONS Mechanization is only part of the farming involvement. the timing of the operation is equally important. Selecting

As it is assumed that

2m of irrigation is available the moisture content of the soil can be suitably conditioned before ploughing. This can both reduce the number the quality of the result.

of times the operation is needed and also improve

The good farmer in an area well endowed by nature as far as rain fall is concerned will get the shower of rain he needs somewhere around the right time and will plough when the soil is just in the right condition. But

nature is not always co-operative and irrigation is one of man's answers to nature's vagaries.

Whilst the major step in mechanization was to change from horses to tractors there are still further economies to be achieved by increasing the power of tractors to operate with wider implements and at higher speeds.

Economics of increasing the speed of ploughing, for example, may be estimated from the following relationship:-

high speed High power = (low power) (low speed }

(there are variations of the exponent related to the nature of the soil but they are in the second decimal place).

There is also some relationship between the quality of the ploughed field, the type of plough and the actual speed, but this is not a specialist dissertation in agricultural engineering.

We can, however, see that as a first approximation, if we double the speed the power required increases by only 25%. On the other hand if

we double the width of operation of the plough, we could expect to double the power required to pull it.

126 On a 50 ha farm the area to be prepared per crop of sugar cane averages 12.5ha and there may be three different fields for each crop or an average of 4.17 ha per field. The full advantages of increasing

mechanization cannot be realized on fields of 4 ha because of the high frequency of turning requirements. Thus for an equipment assembly

designed to cover a 4 ha field at 1 ha/hr, the same equipment could cover a 400 ha field at speeds nearer 5 ha/hr or 7 ha/hr for fields of 4000 ha.

The effects of substantial variations in the size of field on the cost of a unit operation/Te cane are summarized in Table XV charging tractor time at $12.50/hr including driver and fuel, and also adjusting for lower productivity from larger farms.


Size of farm -ha 45 1600 16000

Size of field -ha 4 400 4000

Product ivity Te cane/ha 90.0 84.1 80.6

Cost of tractor usage C/Te cane J 13.9 3.0 2.2

It can be seen that the economic advantages of increasing field size beyond 400 ha or tractor speed beyond i0 km/hr provide progressively decreasing returns per tonne of cane. Gross earnings may increase with

further increases in scale of operation but will have only a marginal effect on the ultimate price of ethanol.

Much more detailed studies would be needed to establish more precisely the optimum scale of farming operations, but for the purpose of

127 this exercise the following data are used for costing purposes - as a first approximation:

Optimum size of farm = 1600 ha Productivity to be expected = 100,000 tonnes cane (i.e. 83.3 Te/ha under crop) Cost of tractor = $50,000 Cost of driver = $7/hr Also for the purpose of this exercise it is estimated that ten tractor-drawn unit operations are required per annum - i.e.does not include irrigation. This equates to $1.39/Te cane for present average sized farms,

30c/Te for a 1600 ha property and 22c/Te for a 16,000 ha estate.

Increasing scale of operations also allows better use to be made of mechanical equipment.

For example with a 45 ha farm the tractor would be required for only 450 hrs/yr or around 5% of total available time. In fact the farmer

probably would not own a tractor powerful enough to operate at 1 ha/hr but would be satisfied with 0.5 ha/hr. He also has a very lax schedule

of maintenance as compared with that operated under stricter discipline for the non-mobile machinery in the sugar mill.

For the 1600 ha property tractor usage would be required for 3200 hrs/yr or 37% of total available time. If we allow for usage to be

restricted to the 9 months associated with the harvest period this becomes 49% of usable time or an average of 12 hrs/day. A property of this size

could economically use a tractor of this capability but would require disciplined schedules of maintenance and operation. The tractor could be

amortized over 5 years at 20% p.a. to cost $5.22 per working hour and with maintenance costs equated to the resale value at the end of the 5 year period.

128 Whilst there are undoubtedly differences in the actual costs of specific tractor-drawn unit operations for example planting is probably more costly than fertilizing, the figures listed in Table XV will be used for average considerations.

The costs of property development are assessed at $8000, 7500 and 7,100/ha including the supply of water up to 200 kl/ha-yr. The total development cost

of $250m is amortized at 11% over 75 years and indexed at 5% p.a., the actual calculation being based on the 6th year of indexed amortization, i.e. the median year of the first 11 years of operation.

IRRIGATION APPLICATION The real cost of applying irrigation is difficult to determine in Queensland as the farmer is able to do this himself if he works a farm of the average size viz. " 4 5 ha. Some information from Hawaii for applications of

2.5m per year by furrow irrigation has indicated labour requirements of the order of 50 man-hrs/ha-yr for this amount of water. For a Queensland

situation presently applying 0.3m this would require only 200 man-hrs of work for the average farm for the cane crop itself with perhaps an additional 10-15% for the fallow area.

This has been used as the basis for calculating the estimated cost of application for a 50 ha farm and scaled to the two larger properties.

It is evident that whilst the cost of applying irrigation is high for the 50 ha farm at 23% of the total cost it is not a dominant cost. There may be

some incentive for the farmer to reduce the amount of time spent on irrigating but the situation would not be particularly pressing. There would be no

real incentive for him to incur too much in the way of capital expenditure for spray or trickle irrigation.


On the other hand there would be substantial incentive for the 1600 ha property owner or the c5,000 ha estate manager to seek to minimize these costs which he could well do by an order of 35 to 50%. Whilst this

incentive may appear to be greatest in the first eleven year of operation it is a labour intensive undertaking, and the cost could be expected to rise progressively with time paralleling the property development cost.

HARVESTING OF SUGAR CANE This has now become the most sophisticated of the unit operations employed in the production of sugar cane. Whilst it may not yet have

reached the peak of its development in terms of mechanical equipment, any new areas being established can benefit from the experiences of the Queensland

130 industry through the past 10 to 15 years, although mechanical harvesting has been practised in restricted areas as far back as 1940 and had been introduced in Hawaii during the previous decade.

There are now several types of harvester being used in Queensland and practically 100% of cane is harvested mechanically in the form of chopped billets. It is customary to put a fire through the field before harvesting

but studies are currently in progress to determine the economics of green cane harvesting.

One of the more popular of the harvesters is the unit produced by the Ilassey Ferguson Co. and known as the MF102 costing in 1977 around $56,000. It is suitable for purchase by a small group of farmers with a total crop of about 20,000 tonnes - 7.4

average:; farmers.

Only one man is required for operation and he has 130 h.p. under his control. This does, however, represent a substantial under-utilization of

the unit which could cut up to 1500 or 1600 tonnes per day but is seldom used to average more than 200 to 300.

A rate-controlling factor as far as the hourly rate is concerned is often the rate at which the containers are taken from and returned to the machine.

One of the legacies of the * + 3 ha farm unit is that a farmer is allocated a periodical quota so that his canemay be milled progressively through the season. The average farmer would have a crop of 2800 tonnes of cane It is obviously

which would represent only 100 Te/week during the season.

very uneconomical to allocate a machine to this task which is capable of cutting out the whole weekly quota in the matter of about 2 hours.

This no doubt accounts very largely for the fact that there are some 1500 machines owned by growers in Queensland for a total crop of 18 to 20 MTe,

131 representing only 450 Te/roachine/veek. This is easy for the machine, and

provided the capitalization can bo carried at $1.67/Te cane (5 years @ 15%) it is easy for the farmer.

The contract cutting price for the driver is currently around 33<?/Te giving a total cost of $2/Te cane.

The writer has done a brief time and motion study of this unit and an associated cost-benefit In the event of new regional development

unrestricted by the situation of the present sugar industry - which understandably has invested heavily in bringing mechanical harvesting to it;present stage - another.? stage is envisaged whereby the real advantages or rhv. Queensland can harvesters may be realised.

In a new development a farmer owning a 50 ha farm unit would be little better off except perhaps for the fact that the maturity period in terms of . crystals izable sugar in cane may not be so critical for ethanol production, in which case a cut once every 4 weeks in a 40 week season could be acceptable At 338 tonnes of cane this would enable the machine to be used for a full 8-hr operational period on tho farm and moved before the next day's harvest. This would increase the seasonal capacity of tho harvester to 95,000 Te/cane to reduce the capitalization. The cost of a unit of ' 4 5 Te cane/hr capacity The amortized cost of the machine, at

is estimated at $83,000 by 1985.

20% for 5 years would be 26.1c/Te cane to which must be added maintenance at 10% p.a. of capital cost or 8.7/Te cane to give a total equipment

cost of 34.8c/Te cane.

If the driver be costed on an hourly rate cf 7/hr the actual cuttingcost would be 15.6*/Te cane. This is doubled to allow for the cost ci"

transfer from one field to another and for cleaning cf the machine and minor maintenance.

132 Thus total harvesting cost is estimated at 57.3c/Te cane.

Even this arrangement does not take advantage of the full cutting capacity of the machine by operating at night. It is normal practice

in the U.S.A. to operate wheat harvesters under floodlight conditions. Their operation is normally on contract rates and they may work 12-16 hours a day during the relatively short harvest season.

It is envisaged that cane harvesters could be operated for 168 hours a week just as the factory machinery will be expected to do, and allowing for a scheduled lost time of 2% plus non-scheduled lost time of 6%. The

drivers would work on a 4-shift roster system for which a rate of $8/hr is estimated as comparable to that of a shift worker in the factory. The

cutting programme would involve two quotas per 24 hrs of 15 hrs, 2 hrs lost time and 3 hrs per transfer, or a total of 4.732 Te cane/week and 190,000 Te cane for the season.

The capital and maintenance costs then become 11.7*/Te cane.


would be 4 men responsible for driving duties which if paid at an hourly rate of $8 for 42 hours per week and 40 weeks would represent a total cost of $13,440/driver, or 27.6c/Te cane.

Total capital and labour cost of harvesting = 39.32c/Te cane.

It is

suggested that there would be social advantages in employing these men on a continuing basis with 12 months of employment of which one month would be regarded as holiday and two months for work on slack season maintenance of farm equipment. these conditions. A lower hourly rate of pay should be negotiable for

If all cane production is to be carried out on 50 ha farms there would be 875 farm units to require 12 harvester units. It would probably prove

to be a wisely economised maintenance support to have two additional units.


The farmer is also responsible for the cost of transfer of cane from the harvester to the pick-up point for the mill transport system. The

actual cost of this part of the exercise is difficult to estimate at this point but a figure of 40C/Te cane is considered to be the right order of magnitude.

Transferring our study to the 1600 ha property or 35,000 ha estate introduces comparable problems in that a double row harvester would become justified and this is the largest size currently manufactured. it is unlikely that a 3-row harvester would be workable. Furthermore

It is also

unlikely that the operating speed would be increased because of the physical problems of manual control. Thus a cutting rate of 90 Te/hr is accepted

as the limit with present known technology.

The twice daily transfer of the machine should be reducible.

For the

1600 ha property we will assume 4 x 400 ha units which are cut, as before, once every 4 weeks and to be cut out in 40 weeks. now be 3333Te or 37 hours of cutting time. Each cutting quota would

Allowing a 5 hr transfer time

this would enable a machine to cut 4 quotas/week or 533,280 Te/season less 8% lost time or 490,000 Te/season.

A total of 4.5 machines would be sufficient to cut the crop, but 5 would be necessary with 2 small machines as stand-by units. double-row harvester is estimated at $126,000. The 1985 cost of a

The capital costing for the Labour

machine, including maintenance at 10% p.a. would be 11.5c/Te cane.

costing on a four shift roster system at $8/hr would be at 12.3c/Te cane, requiring 20 men to operate the five machines at a seasonal cost of $13,440/driver.

The cost of transferring cane to a pick-up point will be discussed in more detail under the general heading of transport costs and will be shown

134 to be around 33.5c/Te cane unless special arrangements are made for direct pick-up by mill or contract "canetainers".

The use of larger bins or canetainers also enables a higher average cutting rate to be attained as there is leas time lost in changing bins.

For operation of a single estate of 35,000 ha the total number of double-row harvesters required could be reduced to + by optimising quota sizes and transfer times to a minimum.

The costs would be 9.56c/Te cane for capital and maintenance charges plus 10.24c/Te cane labour costs or a total of 19.8c/Te cane.

With operation on an estate basis the full cost of transport of cane from the harvester to the mill can be considered as a single cost and itemised with processing costs.

FUEL COSTS The cost of fuel for mechanical harvesters is necessary to take into account for which the following assessments have been made:-


Single-row harvester plus tractor = 30 1/hr of diesel fuel @ 15C/1. Total effective time = cutting time + 25% = 12.5C/Te cane.


Double-row harvester plus tractor = 55 1/hr. time = cutting time + 12% - 10.3c/Te cane.

Total effective


Double-row harvester @ 40 1/hr. time + 6-l/4% = 7.1c/Te cane.

Total effective time = cutting


(a) From field

It is customary for the harvester to fill containers with chopped cane and for these to be transported from the harvester to a loading point for a tramline transport system or to a corresponding loading point for road waggons. operation Sometimes the farmer may do the full transport

himself or by road contract as far as the mill itself.

The size of the containers varies from about 3 to 6 tonnes.


latter size are generally more economical although requiring heavier lifting and handling equipment. Increase in container capacity and

horsepower for transportation should be able to minimise costs at what can be a bottleneck in handling procedures.

3 The packing density of chopped cane stalks is only about 300 kg/m which is the figure commonly used for estimating the sizes of containers.

A single-row harvester operating at 45 Te/hr will fill a 3 Te container in 4 minutes - frequently less. Two men, each with a tractor

and trailer with mechanical coupling/uncoupling can keep a harvester operating and transfer containers up to about 600 m. It might be

difficult for one man to be able to keep up this rate with 6 Te containers.

With a tractor and trailer at half the cost of the harvester this would represent a cost of 33.5c/Te cane including driver, using the same bases for calculation as for the harvester and driver. An exchange of

driver duties becomes desirable because of the intense concentration required in driving the harvester.

136 The double-row harvester would require two men driving tractors to service the machine with six tonne containers. 33.5c/Te cane. The cost would still be

For larger equipment to operate from the field special design would be required by increasing the number of wheels or using track or semi-track units in order to be able to operate under moderately wet conditions.

Irrigation drains and headlands can be troublesome and these also need to be designed into the system.

(b) From field to factory: The most common method in Queensland for transporting sugar cane from the field to the factory is by mill-owned tramway systems which handle over 80% of the crop, only about 13% being transported by road. It is

obvious that there must be many advantages for the tramway system for such a high proportion of cane to be transported in this way.

When coming to a new area one is faced with the high cost of laying tracks and the observation must be made that a road system is also required for normal servicing of the area. If cane is to be transported by road

the standard of the roads would need to be increased and there would be additional maintenance required. In certain overseas situations "road

trains" are used especially in estate operated areas.

The length of a cane transportation system to service a district with 35,000 ha of gross assigned area for growing will be heavily dependent on the distribution of the assignments and a figure of 300 km has been arbitrarily assessed for a road system.

Careful costing is necessary to determine the most economic system from the cost-benefit point of view.

table xvii

Estimated Costs of Road Transport for Sugar Cane

138 For the current purpose a road transport system is considered and appropriate costs are estimated. These are itemised in Table XVII.

Three options have been considered based on a 20 Te "Canetainer" semi-trailer arrangement operating on a 7 day/week schedule. These units

have been built with fast operating devices for minimising turn-around times and 20 round trips of 30 km are claimed per 24 hours to transport M-00 Te cane.

The possibility of using one or two 20 Te trailer units is considered here, the one trailer unit being possibly suited to the 1600 ha properties and the two trailer unit to a 35,000 ha estate. In the latter case the

responsibility for the roads would be entirely with the management of the processing complex.

In the ethanol processing systems under consideration it is proposed that distillery slops be concentrated to 50% solids and returned to the fields as fertilizer. There would seem to be economic advantages in The amount of fertilizer to be

rationalizing the two transport exercises.

recycled is estimated at 50(10) kg/Te cane or one tonne to be returned to the field for every 20 tonnes of cane transported to the factory.

FACTORY EQUIPMENT A sugar-cane/ethanol factory would require a cane preparation and crushing unit comparable to that employed for the extraction of juice for raw sugar manufacture.

The size of the plant is rated at 10,000 Te c.d. which would require an 81% operational time to process a crop of 2.2MTe cane. Although two

crushing tandems are employed at the largest mill in Queensland for a nominal


rating of about 8500 Te c.d., experience with new larger capacity units in other countries indicates that a new single tandem unit could be designed to handle 10,000 Te c.d.

Experience shows that every design engineer has his own especially favoured combination of units and settings of mill openings or preparatory devices.

The preference indicated here would be for a 3 roller crusher unit followed by a shredder and a tandem of G x 3 roller mill units, the roller sizes being 1065 x 2134 ram (42 x 84"). Placing the crusher unit ahead of the shredder would be the reverse of conventional Queensland practice but is commended on the grounds of reduction in power required for the shredding process. There is not very much point in expending

power on shredding juice which can readily be extracted by a crusher. Furthermore with cane already having been cut into short lengths in chopper harvesters, it should be possible to operate with only one heavy set of top knives before the crusher.

In the writer's experience further economics in mill tandem operations are possible with plate type of compression feeders instead of twin roller compression units commonly in use in Queensland.

An average extraction of 95.5% has been used for estimating yields but it is considered that with a tandem of the type described an extraction approaching 96.5% is not unattainable. Each 1% of extraction

would be equivalent to approximately 2 Ml of ethanol in 2.2 MTe of cane.

The flow sheet would otherwise be similar to that suggested for conversion of an existing raw sugar factory to an ethanol distillery but with such modifications as would be more appropriate for the production of ethanol.

A simplified flow sheet for such an arrangement is given in Figure 2 together with an elementary material balance.

In Table XVIII are set out estimates for the cost of processing the sugar cane for the production of ethanol under three conditions of cane growing. The high productivity of 50 ha farm units would require a On the other

larger processing plant if served by the same gross area.

hand the lower unit cost of cane grovm on 1600 ha properties or on a 35,000 ha estate effect significant reductions in the total price of ethanol ex-distillery.

The production rates of the distillery at 200Ml/season would be small in terms of petroleum refineries being equivalent to processing only 8,600 bbl of crude oil a day but the product is indefinitely renewable as long as sunshine and rain continue.

It can be seen from the figures in Table XVIII that the estimated cost of ethanol could be reduced to as low as 1H.5C/1 (1985) if the cane is grown under optimum conditions on a 35,000 ha estate or 15.5c if grown on 1600 ha properties.

Unlike the situation for small farm production the price of cane becomes slightly less than the factory processing cost instead of approximately twice as much.

The influence of the capital cost component becomes more significant in the case of low priced raw material - as is the case when molasses at $25/Te is processed alone for ethanol, the fermentable sugar in the cane is in fact only $34/Te compared to $47/Te for the fermentable sugar in molasses.

For the lowest costing ethanol the capital cost component is 54% of the processing cost and 25% of the growing cost at the sixth year.


TABLE XVIII Estimated cost of processing sugar cane s t a l k juice for ethanol

If amortization of c a p i t a l cost is indexed at 5% it makes less than 0 . 1 c / 1 difference in the s i x t h y e a r .

142 These figures do not include the capital component of farm and transport machinery. If all capital components are included they represent around Thus one would call it neither Escalation of

55% of the ex-distillery cost estimate.

a labour intensive nor a capital intensive industry.

labour costs at the rate of 7% p.a. combined with the built-in 5% escalation in land development amortization would result in an annual cost increase of around 3.8%.

The relative merits of the social benefits of 1600 ha properties and the cost benefits of a 35,000 ha estate in terms of around 1<:/1 of ethanol fall more in the realm of a political decision.

COMPUTER CONTROL FACTORS The use of computers is expected to play a very important part in the control of operations and decision making procedures. In costing,

this is part of both capital and operating costs and at this stage no serious attempt has been made to optimise the requirements, more detailed study being necessary as well as narrower guidelines for specific development,

The present Queensland sugar industry is developing computer assistance for farmers with special respect to block productivity results. context of 45 ha farm units this makes a great deal of sense. likewise important for large property sizes. In the It is

But in the latter case the

importance of scheduling equipment usage and maintenance become equally as important and the benefits of computer-assisted decision making would be necessary to achieve the type of results envisaged in this report.

Scheduling of cane harvesting and transportation need not be so complicated with large properties but because of the high capacity equipment involved effective management control becomes financially very significant.

143 Within the processing plant itself every advantage should be taken of the opportunities for sophisticated instrumentation, unit automation and over-riding computer decision-making when designing equipment.

FARM EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE A high degree of farm mechanization brings with it the need for a higher standard of maintenance of equipment. There are various ways in

which these are handled - by the farmer himself, by contract at some central site or by itinerant maintenance tradesmen.

The farmer does need to have his own workshop and facilities for essential maintenance and requires to be competent himself in a variety of technical skills or to employ a person who is able and willing to do this.

Costing of these operations should ideally be distributed among the individual items of equipment in order better to assess their cost-benefit contributions to the farm. The extent to which this is done will depend

largely on the attitude and application of the farmer as well as his ability to handle the bookwork involved. This is an area in which estate

management has substantial potential advantages although they may not always be realised in practice as competently as the system warrants.

There is also important decision making related to planned maintenance or anticipatory maintenance based on equipment behaviour observations as well as replacement decisions. Skill in management as well as technical

procedures becomes increasingly important.

The farmer needs to keep certain stocks of spare parts but there are limits to this in which he is aided by district representatives for

equipment as well as by improved means of transport and communications such as better telephone services and C.B. radio.

In an estate situation associated with a factory greater economy and reliability in maintenance may be sought centralizing maintenance services at the factory site probably in association with transport maintenance, but with effective patrol services and C.B. radio area communication.

MANAGEMENT OF AGRICULTURAL OPERATIONS This is undoubtedly, the most costly component of sugar cane farming for 50 ha area units, but there is little significant incentive to convert to larger units in the context of the present industry. The

policy of single person or family units was enunciated at the time of rationalization of the industry concurrent with federation, and still has many social advantages for its maintenance with appropriate built-in preservation structures. confirm this way of life. Concurrent strategic and political benefits Possible effects on the retail price of sugar

may be grudgingly accepted by the community at large in return for stability of price, and currently a satisfactory price situation in relation to world markets. The acceptance is less so during periods when

the domestic price is significantly higher than world market situations but the built-in inertia of the system has maintained its economic constraints and controls.

A new industry such as ethanol will have a different social impingement and the community is less likely to accept too much artificial structuring of the domestic price in the light of current known technology new sources of technological expertise impinge on the problem, and have more significant effects.

Whilst a good manager may operate at anything up to 25 or 30% below average costs simply by good management the same good manager could equally as efficiently manage a farm ten or a hundred times as large as his own. Thus an estate is able to pay well to retain the most competent expertise at only a fraction of the cost per tonne of cane as is possible for the individual farmer. Cn the other hand an estate which is poorly managed

experiences financial crises of much greater magnitude than those of an individual farmer.

Intermediate between the single estate and the 50 ha farm unit a unit of 1600 ha has been examined and calculations indicate that the relatively small increase in costs may well be compensated by the social benefits of the intermediate unit.

Whilst the price of cane itself may be 17% higher from a 1600 ha property than from an estate this is usefully offset by the higher productivity to be expected from the smaller unit. The overall cost-

enefit of the estate is reduced to only 7% after processing of the cane to ethanol. It is, however, still only two thirds of the price of the

50 ha unit operations.

For a single new area development 700 x 50 ha farmers would be needed whereas only 22 at 1600 ha or one manager for a single estate. The

probability of being able to recruit the 22 managers with the required expertise to operate 1600 ha properties would be rather better than the prospects of recruiting 700 farmers with the expertise to manage 50 ha highly mechanized units with the necessary efficiency.

Mechanization means providing operatives with mechanical power to extend their manual abilities. In a sugar cane factory where units are

stationary and running for 24 hours in a day, albeit only for 5 days in a week, an individual operative has under his control something between

146 150 and 200 h.p., individuals may have as much as two to three thousand and to operate for 95% of the available time.

The best which may be said of his counterparts on the farm would be for the harvester driver who has power units under his control of the order of 130 to 180 h.p. but seldom operating effectively for more than 50% of available time of an individual operator - even the time spent in turning at the ends of a row is in effect an inoperative use of the time available to the machine and driver, in other words long rows are better in a mechanized farming economy.

The over-all situation on a farm is difficult to assess but it could well be that net more than 15 to 20 h.p. is used by the farm operator on a continuous basis - or maybe even less. Machinery locked up in a shed or

mechanically inoperative is an expensive luxury, it only earns its keep while it is working.

Effective management also involves careful and accurate costing and the advantages of computerized assistance in this area has already been pointed out.

The farm manager needs an accountant competent in his field and the accountant needs to understand the computer system in order to provide the manager with the best of advice for making decisions.

For a single new area development 70 accountants could well be required to service the needs of 700 farmers. A 1600 ha manager could

afford to employ one on a full time basis in which case 22 would be required. On the other hand the estate would probably employ a staff of accountants and clerks of varying degrees of expertise. Either of these groups would

more readily be available from the employment pool than the 70 required for servicing small farm operators.

147 The transport of sugar cane is usually effected in Queensland with an economy more comparable to that of the factory than of the farm. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the operation and cost of the basic transport system is the responsibility of the factory.

In other countries where there is an individual farmer economy the whole of the transport system is more commonly in the hands of independent contractors or of the farmers themselves. It has been conspicuous in

these situations that the economy of operation has been more of the standard of general agricultural operations than of those of the factory.

Queensland also has a built-in price incentive which provides financial benefits to the farmer who gets his cane to the factory in the shortest possible time with minimum deterioration. This somewhat complex

incentive system also gives financial benefit to the factory for good fresh cane. In overseas situations where corresponding benefits have been

successfully introduced associated improvements in quality of cane and efficiency of transportation have materialized.

AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICES It may well be said that an individual farm economy can only develop efficiently with a high quality, efficient and effective extension service. This is already operating well in the Queensland sugar industry but did not reach its present stage overnight. The service has been progressively

developing, as has also the relationship with the farmer.

One area in which this has been of paramount importance has been that of the control of diseases in the sugar cane and to a lesser extent to pest control. Whilst services in the area of agronomy have made the differences

between a poor industry and a good industry, the services in the field of disease control have meant the difference between a healthv industrv and

probably no cane sugar industry at all - at least as far as Queensland is concerned.

The relevance of this to prospective development in a new area cannot be too strongly emphasized. When a new area is developed in this way the

basic ecology is interfered with to such a degree that pests and bacteria which were previously benign suddenly flare into a condition of very high activity the specific nature and extent of which is difficult to predict.

The development of new varieties of sugar cane is also an important function of centralised services. New varieties are continually needed Even to

not only to improve productivity but also to resist disease.

maintain productivity requires the continual development of new varieties. The commercial growing of sugar cane involves plant propogation from segments of the stalk of a previous generation followed by successive regeneration of the root system. operation. This is the only practicable means of

To grow a crop from sowing seed each year would be quite However, employing the clone propogation technique


means that the genetic age of a particular stalk is the sum of the ages of all of the previous generations since its ancestor was initially developed from a seed. After about 10 years of self propogation, it becomes

economical to introduce a new variety, which requires primary propogation from a seed.

The breeding of sugar cane for new varieties initially involves the controlled fertilization of flowers followed by collection and germination of the seed. This and successive stages in the procedure for development

of a new variety are highly skilled, professionally controlled exercises, to which should also be added the very high degree of professional skill involved in selecting the desired parentage for fertilization.

Development of a new area for sugar cane growing should take maximum advantage of the skills and organization already developed in

149 Queensland. Undoubtedly local representation of a professional standard

would be required but desirably related to the base organization. Appropriate funding would be needed for the new industry. There is some

government financial assistance to the agricultural research and development programmes for the existing sugar cane industry in Queensland but only on a marginal basis. For significant new area development a

primary injection of government finance would be needed to set the new area on its way but to be progressively financed by levies on new production with a corresponding reduction in the scale of government assistance.

The suggestion is submitted that worthwhile addition to the pool of expertise in this field, as would be required by new area development, might profitably be obtained by a policy of selective migration from overseas where corresponding skills have been developed. communication Freer- inter-

between Australia and neighbouring countries could be of

benefit to both parties in this area of operation.

Whereas there is a wealth of expertise available in Australia on growing sugar cane and processing for raw sugar the expertise in ethanol production is relatively restricted.

A new source of appropriate technical expertise would need to be created concerned not only with production of ethanol but also with its applications as a liquid fuel.

150 PRODUCTIVITY DEVELOPMENT ON EXISTING FARM AREAS It has already been indicated that average rate of increase of productivity over the past 75 years has been at the average rate of 1.58% p.a. in terms of Te sugar/ha. In terms of the present gross

assigned area of the sugar industry in Queensland this is equivalent to adding another 5135 ha or 43,500 tonnes of sugar each year which is nearly half a new sugar mill of average peak assessment.

Maintaining a growth of this magnitude requires a significant total effort but a relatively small individual effort when distributed among 7000 growers.

The two chief factors which can be adjusted to maximise yields are to provide all the water the cane needs, when it needs it and to provide adequate fertilizer. Much effort has been expended in determining the Water supplies of irrigation

optimum needs in each of these requirements.

have been progressively developed and fields have been improved from the point of view of drainage. There seems to be good reason to believe that

the 1.58% p.a. increase in productivity can continue to be maintained for many years to come if developments of water supplies and field drainage continue.

To these must also be added the contribution from the continual breeding of new varieties and persistent efforts to combat disease and pests.

Other areas of study in the general growth characteristics of sugar cane have included the use of hormone growth stimulants or flowering controllers.

151 The importance of the carbon dioxide/oxygen cycle to the growth of the plant has been noted. The supply of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere The behaviour

is always adequate for the plant synthesis processes.

of sugar cane contrasts somewhat with that of sugar beet from this point of view. Sugar beet has been found to respond favourably to higher

concentrations of C 0 2 , or putting it another way - sugar beet is strongly C02 sensitive whereas sugar cane is not.

Sugar cane has been observed to show a strong response in photoperiodism in that it is often in full flower during the harvesting season which generally coincides with the period of lengthening of daylight hours. When flowering occurs the plant itself stops growing although there may be an increase in sucrose content. Each of these is important in the sugar

industry (undesirable and desirable respectively), but the latter would be much less important in the ethanol industry. The sucrose pre-

cursors are hexose sugars which themselves are fermentable without the need for hydrolysis.

On the other hand when the cane stops growing the tonnage per hectare has reached its peak for the season and this is unfortunate in either industry.

It is known that the flowering of sugar cane is related to the length of the day - sugar cane is a ''short day" plant which means that flowering initiates when the length of day reaches a certain value during the time between the longest and shortest day of the year and is in full bloom shortly after the shortest day.

Three main approaches to this problem have been made.

One is by

breeding - it is well known that some varieties of sugar cane flower much more prolifically than others. In fact in some countries

152 no flowering occurs at all, e.g. Pakistan and the breeding station is located in some other part of the country where flowering does occur. Photoperiodism is probably more noticeable as the latitude increases but there are complexing factors.

Hormone spraying has been used to inhibit flowering but has been found too costly and not as reliable as desired.

Simple extension of daylight time has also been tried - sometimes successfully, at other times without success. It has been demonstrated

that the sugar cane plant (as with other short day plants) is responsive to irradiation at night with artificial light. The light intensity does

not need to be strong, actually something only marginally stronger than the light of the full moon is sufficient to confuse the responses of the plant. If an effective intensiry were to be as low as that of the full Also it is found that

moon, then nature herself would be in confusion.

only a short period of artificial illumination is sufficient to effect the desired confusion of the plant, perhaps as little as two to five minutes.

What does seem to have had less attention is the precise time in the growing cycle when the artificial radiation should be applied. It

is obviously no use to apply the treatment once the flower has begun to develop, but how to determine the right time and how the farmer might be able to identify this to his own advantage are questions to which there do not yet seem to be adequate answers.

The type of equipment which night be employed is envisaged as being comparable to that used to illuminate a sports arena at night. A tower

could be suitably placed to command a large area of sugar canefields and capable of rotation by 360 so that full advantage could be taken of the installation.

153 The return which might be expected by way of increased yield would probably be something of the order of 10% 5 depending also upon a variety of related factors. However, a return of this order of

agnitude would appear to justify the cost of treatment if the right technique can be defined.

The sugar cane is a hardy plant from many points of view.

It has

needed to be in order to survive and still to grow wild in many countries. Recovery after drought or flood does take place, the sucrose development may not be at its best under these conditions and it may prefer to develop new shoots to grow into stalks. have its preferences. Like other living things the plant does

It luxuriates in sunshine but does not like to get its canopy of leaves sunburnt. For this it needs an ample supply of water to

maintain a high rate of respiration, the final phase change which the respiring water experiences as it leaves in vapour form to humidify the surrounding atmosphere involves a substantial consumption of heat by way of the latent head of vapourization. On the other hand it does not

like to have wet feet and grows better if looked after in this respect. Also it does not like cold feet and objects to frosts. Its favourite

temperature conditions for optimum growth are between about 27 and 37 . At lower temperatures its growth rate slows and becomes very slow below 20. When its own temperature gets into the mid thirties it starts to

experience problems of heat exhaustion and when the surrounding shade temperature gets to 4 0 it can be in real trouble unless the water supply is maintained.

The sugar cane may be a hardy plant but it responds remarkably well to the tender loving care appropriate to its needs, the response being by way of prolific growth and more effective and efficient use of the sunshine in which it thrives.


Sucrose and the hexose sugars are by no means the only carbohydrates within the sugar cane. There is also a high proportion

of cellulose in the fibre and it is potentially fermentable to ethanol. The proportion of cellulose in the fibre is not known precisely but is believed to be around 53% of the dry weight of fibre. The number of

tests from which this information has been obtained is relatively few and more comprehensive studies are needed for firm conclusions.

Cellulose has the empirical formula


and is a polymer

of glucose to which it hydrolyses and which in turn is fermentable to give the stoichiometric relationship of 720 1 of ethanol per tonne of cellulose.

Unfortunately both the hydrolysis and fermentation steps are difficult and it has required an input of research and development to increase the overall production of ethanol to 50% of the stoichiometric value.

If these figures are applied to sugar cane fibre it would indicate a potential availability of ethanol of 190 1/tonne fibre. For a fibre

content of stalk cane of 13.8%, it would enable a further 26 1 of ethanol/ Te cane to be obtained from this source. However, we do know that every

tonne of stalk is associated with about 690 kg of tops, leaves and trash. Unfortunately we do not know exactly how much, nor what the fibre content of these components may be, nor how much is lost during the burning operation which precedes harvesting. firm estimating is possible More of these data are necessary before

but tentatively we could consider the prospect

of harvesting the whole cane with 500 kg of tops and leaves of the same fibre content as the stalk. The tops and leaves also contain sugars, The

albeit much more hexose than sucrose but no doubt fermentable.

concentration of sugars in the tops and leaves would be less and this we

155 might assess as 10% in terms of hexose sugars. Thus in the tops and

leaves, we could expect to have 36.5 kg of cellulose and 50 kg of hexose sugars from which 42 1 of ethanol would be expected (13.2 + 28.7).

The possibility of fermenting hydrolysed cellulose and of processing tops as well as stalk adds a new dimension to the use of sugar cane as an energy source. We will first of all consider the possibility of reducing

extraction requirements to the use of only the crusher and first mill and assume that the shredder between the crusher and first mill is useful. An extraction of 70% of the available juice could be expected with this arrangement and the first mill bagasse be used directly for cellulose and residual sucrose hydrolysis.

Yield from 1000 kg stalk cane: - juice - 96.3 litres ethanol fibre - 26.3 500 kg tops - juice - 28.7 fibre - 13.2 164.5 164.5 1 ethanol/Te stalk cane.

A great deal of detailed study of cellulose hydrolysis and fermentation is currently proceeding in a number of laboratories in different parts of the world including Australia.

The cellulose is difficult to attack with micro-organisms because of its close association with lignin and pentosans present in approximately equal proportions. fibre weight. In sugar cane, they each represent about 19% of dry

The pentosans hydrolyse to pentose sugars without a great

deal of difficulty but these are virtually non-fermentable to ethanol by any known commercially viable technique.

156 Most workers first endeavour to break the fibre complex either by mild sodium hydroxide or sulphite treatment probably with the aid of heat in the form of high pressure steam. type of pulping treatment. This is equivalent to a mild

In the present context the author does not view this approach at all favourably owing to the deleterious effect this would have on the fructose which is 50% of the hydrolysis products of sucrose and is very labile in a hot alkaline or acid environment.

The U.S. Army Natick laboratories have been extensively concerned with the problem of cellulose degradation since 1971 when they were confronted with the mounting waste disposal problem on U.S. army bases. A mutant of the fungus Trichoderma viride was found to be able to produce an especially useful form of the enzyme Cellulase which was capable of breaking down crystalline and generally insoluble cellulose. This fungus

had earlier been observed on a rotting cotton cartridge belt being used in the jungles of New Guinea, whereas other forms of cellulase had previously been obtained from Aspergillus niger. This group of workers was able to

derive mutants from the original Trichoderma strain, which were able to produce two to four times as much cellulase as the wild type and considered to be capable of still further improvement. The yield of glucose so

obtained was reported to be 50%, and more highly fermentable than the glucose type hydrolysates obtained from other strains of cellulase.

A major problem with cellulose hydrolysis is kinetic and rates are generally very slow. If a slow rate is acceptable then it is considered

that a 50% over-all recovery of ethanol (combined hydrolysis and fermentation steps) should now be achievable. will require more study and it is To increase this to 75%

thought that such an achievement may

well represent an economic ceiling or possibly even something in between at around 64%.

157 It has generally been considered that such slow rates would result in uneconomic sizes for suitable processing equipment, hence the attempts to speed up biodegradation of cellulose by applying a mild preliminary softening treatment to the fibre. The view is expressed here that in the

case of sugar cane fibre the economic advantages of being able to leave up to 30% of sucrose bearing juice still in contact with the fibre make it worthwhile exploring possibilities for low temperature slow speed biodegradation. The suggestion is therefore put forward that some adaptation

of the Ritter system of bagasse storage could adequately meet the requirements of this situation at modest cost for a slow degradation rate. The Ritter system has been developed essentially to store bagasse in bulk and keep the bagasse pile wet with a biological liquor - in this case to prevent deterioration of the fibrous material. The earliest experiments

with the system commenced as far back as 1930 and the first industrial operation was established in 1956 in South Africa. The bagasse is first

conveyed from the sugar mill to an elevated channel where it is mixed with a biological liquor to form a 4% suspension and flushed to a large slab of concrete which is used as storage area. The concrete floor is traversed

in one direction by a number of parallel draining channels allowing the liquor to be recirculated by a pump.

The bagasse at first forms a large pyramid and by directing the flow of bagasse the pile can be adjusted with ease, the sides inclined at an angle of 45. The storage pile can reach as high as 25 m in which

case a mechanical flushing device is used to lift the bagasse towards the top of the pile.

The bagasse on the storage area absorbs approximately 50% of the biological liquid used; this amount has to be replaced by chlorine-free filtered fresh water, together with fresh biological culture at the rate of 0.25% of the circulating liquor.

158 The bagasse is mechanically reclaimed from the pile and then flumed via the transverse channels to a central tank for subsequent processing.

The particular biological fluid employed in this process is a carefully developed strain of Lactobacillus selected for the purpose of preserving the fibre but there would seem to be no technical reason why this should not be replaced with a suitable biological medium developed to carefully destroy the cellulose component and then process the resulting liquid phase for subsequent fermentation. It might be suggested

that carrying out this reaction in the open air leaves the pile too susceptible to undesirable infection, however this is still a problem with the Lactobacillus liquor to which much attention is successfully devoted to maintain the desired strain of this biopreserver. The leaching of ore

bodies with biological fluids is another area in which an operation of this type is carried out.

With this process as much as 140,000 tonnes of dry fibre equivalent are stored in an area of 4.5 ha which would represent the fibre from 675,000 tonnes of stalk cane together with the fibre from the tops and would represent a residence time of 70 days which should be adequate for effective and satisfactory degradation of the cellulose.

The use of bagasse fibre for cellulose hydrolysis would deprive the distillery of its natural fuel. Some relief could be obtained by

recovering the undegraded lignin and cellulose (25% assumed to be recoverable for fuel) first drying it by passing through two sets of roller mills and then firing it as fuel. The writer has observed the Ritter storage and preservation system in operation and was well impressed with the high degree of mechanization possible throughout the handling stages. Although the object was

essentially to preserve the bagasse it was evident from the brown colour

159 of the heap that at least some lignification had taken place which is just what is needed if cellulose is removed by biodegradation.

For the time being it has been envisaged that the bagasse transferred from the first mill to the hydrolysis heap is not thermally sterilized in the same way as the juice but is appropriately treated either chemically or biochemically to ensure that the desired route of biodegradation is followed as closely as possible. Some closer study on the economic limit

to which juice is extracted will need to be done when these details are worked out.

It is assumed that the pentosans break down in some way, they can be a source of furfural and this could be investigated later, but for the time being this possibility is ignored. The theoretical yield per tonne of

stalk cane, processing the tops also, would be about 23 kg/Te stalk cane so that a 50% yield of this chemical would indicate a potential recovery of 23,000 Te furfural from 2MTe cane. be reduced to 15,000 Te. If only stalk is processed, this would

The lignin is assumed to be left in the heap after biodegradation and to amount to 45 kg/Te whole cane. This should be in a convenient form to

return to the factory to two sets of 3-roller mills through which it is passed for drying in preparation for use as fuel.

Lignin has a very complex chemical structure and leaves paper pulp plants in large quantities as an effluent difficult to dispose of and not veryuseful except for making vanillin, and the market for vanillin can be quickly saturated. The chemical composition actually varies slightly and it is An average empirical formula is
C 4 9 H 5 2

probably not a single compound.


and having a lower proportion of oxygen it has a better fuel value than the pentosans or cellulose. The N.Th.V. of lignin is estimated at 24,000 kj/kg

compared to 18,100 for dry bagasse.

160 If the lignin is dried to 48% moisture at the rollers the fuel value (nett) would be 14,350 kJ/kg or 74% more than bagasse of the same moisture content. It would be worth about 0.25C/1 of ethanol for its

fuel value in terms of the coal it could displace.

Instead of using heaps of bagasse on a concrete floor, concrete towers in the form of silos could be constructed and operated as tower type continuous countercurrent cellulose hydrolyzers in a specialised ensilage type of operation. There are in fact, various possible types and

arrangements of equipment but detailed designs must await more specific information on cellulose biodegradation kinetics and yields. Countercurrent

diffusers designed for the sugar cane or beet industry operate at rates of 7 to 10,000 Te/day and adaptation should not be difficult.

There is sufficient information available, however, to enable a first approximation to be made in estimating the order of magnitude of the cost of ethanol which could be produced in this way.

The estimated magnitude of the components of the cost are itemised in Table XIX indicating around 11C/1 for large management areas of cane growing and 16c/1 for 50 ha unit farms. If a yield of 64% can be achieved

in the cellulose hydrolysis and fermentation instead of 50% this could enable a further cost reduction of the order of 1C/1 to be effected.

A simplified flow sheet with materials and energy distributions is set out in Figure 3.

TABLE XIX E s t i m a t e d c o s t o f e t h a n o l from w h o l e Costs are p e r tonne of s t a l k cane including cellulose hydrolysis

c a n e and p e r l i t r e o f e t h a n o l


Cassava probably ranks second to sugar cane as a natural photosynthesizer with starch being stored in tubers. It is a very common When

crop in many tropical countries - known as manioc in South America.

grown under conditions of traditional culture yields are relatively low and the root system is so complex that it would be very difficult to design a suitable mechanical harvesting unit. However, it is reported that it has

been possible to breed a variety with a root system sufficiently simple and compact to enable mechanical harvesting to be carried out without difficulty.

Demonstration yields have been as high as 13.5 Te/ha of starch but it is felt that this should be viewed in somewhat the same light as the 222 Te/ha of cane in the demonstration crop at Bundaberg and that average yields under good conditions are likely to be nearer 7 or 8Te/ha of starch. This may be compared with the Queensland average sugar cane

crop yield of 11.5 Te/ha of glucose equivalent to compare with 32 Te/ha under demonstration conditions or 19 Te/ha which has been obtained as a seasonal average yield in the Burdekin.

Cassava cropping has also been found to deplete the soil heavily, requiring continual replenishment of plant nutrients in order to maintain soil fertility and a continuation of satisfactory area productivity. On

the other hand it probably does not require as much water as sugar cane and it stores well enough in the ground to enable the harvest to be spread over a reasonable period.

It is suggested here that cassava might be considered as a more profitable fallow crop than the usual legume. It is not an uncommon

practice to grow a root crop in rotation with a cereal and this is one of the successful sequences for sugar beet growing. In fact it is essential

to interspace a surface crop between crops of sugar beet to maintain productivity. An attempt to grow successive sugar beet crops in the same

area of ground in Canada for example, proved unsuccessful, due to the development of an uncontrollable infestation of nematodes. Cassava

is also known to benefit from the interspersing of another crop.

It is unlikely that a cassava crop could be grown to be harvested between the two sugar seasons since this would be the wet season and a period when it is most unlikely that root vegetables would thrive or store very satisfactory quantities of starch. be a profitable venture. Nevertheless, it may still

The programming of planting and harvesting of both sugar cane and cassava would need to be carried out carefully in order to get the best results from both crops and some time and study will be required before this can be fully assessed.

Assuming that this can be done satisfactorily, the concentrated slops equivalent to the cassava growing area would be expected to be recycled and to maintain 85% of the K and P requirements and 35% of the N requirements. It would be necessary to replenish the balance for the

next crop of plant cane.

The ethanol cost and production estimates are summarized in Table XX for cultivation and Tables XXI and XXII for processing and total costs when processing either stalk cane juice without cellulose hydrolysis or whole cane including cellulose hydrolysis.

There are quite serious difficulties in estimating the costs of cassava cultivation, harvesting and transportation. Also the benefits The writer

or otherwise of increasing the scale of farming operations.

is at present of the opinion that the cost benefits of large scale farming operations are likely to be proportionately less for cassava than for sugar cane. How long this is likely to remain to be the case will depend very

largely on the technology which is devised for harvesting cassava as well as on the success of breeding in producing a root system that will lend itself to effective mechanical harvesting of a type that can take full advantage of large scale farming. The sugar beet industry was very

successful in developing seeds and plants to suit mechanization but the R. S D. cost was high and the time-span 15 to 20 years.

It can be seen by comparing the costs when processing juice only from stalk cane in Tables XVIII and XXI that growing a cassava fallow crop may result in a very marginal decrease in cost for the large properties or estates(2%) and a slightly better (8%) decrease for 50 ha farms.

From Tables XIX and XXII it can be seen that when processing cellulose as well as juice from whole cane there may be a marginal increase in cost of 5% for large properties and estate growing but only a very marginal increase for 50 ha farm units at around 1%.

Productivity, however, will be increased in all cases varying from 25% in the case of processing only juice from stalk cane to 14% in the case of processing both cellulose and juice in whole cane.

Although district development costs are initially only a minor proportion of final ethanol costs due to the nature of the accounting, these costs are high in unit terms and the proportion will escalate. Therefore the increase in productivity derivable from growing cassava as a fallow crop is considered sufficient to justify the practice in spite of additional fertilizer being required.

The costing given in Table XX relating to the estimated costs for growing cassava as a fallow crop with sugar cane must on no account be taken as an indication of growing cassava as a crop in its own right. No property

A * > ^ ~,4- oi-s have been charged against cassava as a fallow crop as these

165 have already been charged against the cane. Also the cultivation

requirements of preparing ground and planting cassava instead of legumes following a second ratoon crop of sugar cane are rather different from the cultural requirements for cassava as a crop in its own right.

The view is expressed nere that in order to develop its maximum potential in continuing productivity, that cassava will need a rotation crop, just as sugar cane benefits from the legume fallow crop. It appears

therefore that sugar cane as an associated crop with cassava would be just as beneficial to the cassava as the cassava would be to the sugar cane.

The time could be envisaged with increasing development of cassava agricultural technology that it might become economical only to grow one ratoon of sugar cane and double the production from cassava, but this is an exercise in relative economics very much for the future.

On the other hand every endeavour has been made here to be consistent in the application of constraints in the case of both sugar cane and cassava growing technology.

166 Table XX Cost Estimates for growing Cassava for Etftianol (as follow crop for sugar cane cultivation)

167 Table XXI Estimated Cost of Producing Ethanol from Sugar Cane Stalk Juice and Cassava

Table XXII Estimated Cost of Producing Ethanol From Whole Sugar Cane and Cassava

EFFECT OF FARM PRODUCTIVITY ON COST OF ETHANOL Whilst we have examined the effects of several technical and social innovations on the estimated cost of ethanol we have not seriously examined the influence of changes in the productivity of farm units. It

has been pointed out that the average productivity of farms in Queensland is only around 40% of demonstrated capability and that the rate of growth in productivity is only 1.1% p.a. in terms of Te cane/ha or 1.58% p.a. in terms of Te sugar/ha. The relatively low growth rate is commonly viewed as

providing a useful bonus, the real value of which is only noticed over a 10 or 15 year period.

However, we have set out to take advantage of whatever useful innovations in technology are available and sufficiently proven. To be

consistent we should at least examine the effects which could be expected from applying this reasoning to farm productivity. The production

capability figures used here were demonstrated over 40 years ago and the only change which might have taken place in the meantime would be to raise the ceiling. The essential requirements for achieving these yields are

well known and not unrealistic, they have been demonstrated time and again by the best farmers.

Selecting 10 men who could achieve similar success on an estate and given $2m each per season to manage the estate would be sufficient to provide the operation of 350,000 ha of cane and half of Australia's current motor car fuel requirements.

In Table XXIII the effects of such an innovation on the estimated cost of producing ethanol have been summarized.

The productivity figures for the three selected area units have been doubled to represent an 80% capability achievement for 50 ha farm units

or 71% for the 35,000 ha estate, relative to a ceiling of 225 Te cane/ha. If the new area proved to be as productive as the Burdekin delta district such an achievement percentage would be some 10% less.

If productivity figures of this magnitude are allowed to develop simply by the effluxion of time it would take 70 years to achieve, and yet we do know today, basically what is needed for their achievement - water and fertilizer in the right amounts at the right time, the right composition of the fertilizer, good drainage and effective control of diseases and pests.

In the calculations for Table XXIII it has been assumed that one factory unit could service a 35,000 ha area when productivity of this order is achieved. This would require a crushing unit nominally of 20,000 Te

cane/day which cuts across our earlier premise of the limiting effects of logistic problems.

As we are idealising to a certain extent with respect to farm productivity we will allow such to extend. to logistics capability being achieved for a rating of this scale.

Looking at specific items in Table XXIII the allocated cost of property development has not been changed (in terms of costs/1 ethanol) because 40% of this component is made up of providing water storage required for growth.

If area productivity is to be doubled, it is conceivable that irrigation water needs would be doubled. Whilst it could legitimately be

claimed that a scaling index could be used such that costs would increase by 52% if the scale is doubled, no advantage has been taken of this factor.

Cultivation costs per unit of production should be effectively halved but only a 67% change has been scheduled. Fertilizer costs per unit of

171 T a b l e XXIII E s t i m a t e d c o s t o f e t h a n o l from w h o l e 80% a g r i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c t i v i t y . cane i n c l u d i n g c e l l u l o s e h y d r o l y s i s for

Costs are c p e r l i t r e of e t h a n o l .

production are expected to be virtually unchanged whereas the cost of chemicals could be nearly halved. scheduled. A combined change of 80% has been

A similar adjustment has been made for harvesting costs.

The cost of applying irrigation and of management in relation to the unit of production have been adjusted at 67%.

In overall terms the cost of production of the raw material has been reduced by an average of 23%. The effect on processing cost is

essentially one of scaling and could equally as well have been achieved by servicing a larger producing area (except for transportation costs). The savings in processing costs are thus further increased by 24%.

The overall average reduction in cost is 25%.

Growing cassava as a fallow crop is likely to add slightly to the cost of product until such time as growing, harvesting and transportation technology is brought up to demonstration levels of achievement. The

addition to total production would be only 7% which conceivably could be increased to 10% by improved productivity of the cassava crop.

At these figures the possible benefits of growing cassava as a fallow crop become debatable and a prolonged period of experimental develop and careful costing is indicated as being desirable before a general policy decision can be made on sound economic grounds.

Thus if we are looking for a base level figure for the cost of ethanol ex-distillery to which all other cost figures might be referred in terms of achievement capability this figure would seem to be 7c/1 ex distillery in 1985.

In Figure 4, the various estimates for the cost of producing ethanol have been set out in graphical form to illustrate the basic


The secondary effects of nine other parameters are also These additional

included and interpolations can be made as desired.

parameters are (1) social change (2) cellulose hydrolysis (3) cassava growing as a fallow crop (4) disaster effects (5) seasonal fluctuations (6) high productivity development on the farm (7) dual operation with an existing sugar mill (8) stalk cane/whole cane processing and (9) the step effects of new developments in technology.


Once cellulose in fibre is successfully hydrolyzed it becomes necessary to employ an alternative source of fuel. Coal appears to be a

suitable fuel for this purpose in Queensland and it has been estimated that 310 kg of coal would be needed per kilolitre of ethanol produced by this route. Or looking at it another way, 1 tonne of coal enables It would, however, be more correct

3.23 kl of ethanol to be produced.

to say that 1 Te coal enables an extra 1.33kl of ethanol to be produced.

The alternative route for producing motor spirit by hydrogen tion of coal would enable about 0.3 kl of motor spirit to be obtained from coal of corresponding thermal value. The ratio in terms of equivalent usable

motor fuel would be 4.4:1 for an engine with a compression ratio of 10 or 3.0:1 on the basis of relative net thermal values.

To produce 14 Gl of ethanol per annum by the cellulose hydrolysis route would require an annual supply of 4.3 MTe of coal.

The energy input for full mechanization of the farming procedures and transport of cane is estimated to amount to approximately 1% of the net thermal value of the ethanol or 1 1 of diesel fuel per tonne of cane. farmer probably also uses as much as this in his private car. The

The energy input as fertilizer is largely recycled concentrated distillery slops for which coal is required to effect the evaporation. Since this is an additional process to the basic operations of distillation the whole of these costs should be debited to the coal-cost component and this accounts for 74% of this cost.

It would appear to be worth studying the recycling of stripping column slops to the hydrolysis heap instead of condensate to the evaporator in order to allow the solids concentration to build up and hence economise in evaporation requirements.

The estimated steam usage is based on quintuple effect evaporation. The economics of additional effects may need study or possibly cascade evaporators of the type used in water desalination plants.

Concentration of slops as such is probably not a particularly good way of making fertilizer in terms of fuel economy but when the combined costs of chemical fertilizers plus the operation of an effluent treatment plant for the slops are taken together the net benefit of slops evaporation and recycling as fertilizer becomes a more realistic economic benefit.

The use of coal could be avoided by employing a full tandem of mills to extract as much juice as possible and then burn sufficient of the bagasse plus residual lignin at maximum efficiency, to produce the steam necessary to process the juice plus the remainder of the bagasse to ethanol. A balance of materials indicates that this can be achieved for whole cane processing by diverting 32% of the bagasse to the furnace of the steam generator. The overall return in terms of ethanol/Te cane is reduced by

only 1% because of the more favourable processing route for the juice sugars and the normally low recovery (50% on cellulose) from the fibre processing.

In view of the value of obtaining a good extraction of juice, the size of the milling plant has been returned to 10,000 Te cane/day and 6 sets of mills employed with a 94% overall extraction. The estimated capital

cost of the extra mills and auxiliaries has been added as well as scaling up of the slops evaporator required to process the extra water needed for maceration.

The estimated costs under this arrangement are summarized in Table XXIV where it can be seen that the cost estimate rises by 0.93<: for 50 ha farm production and by 1.55C/1 for the 1600 ha properties.

The use of coal enables costs to be reduced mainly by making possible a slightly more simple route which in turn makes it worthwhile scaling up to 20,000 Te cane/day - when juice extraction is not a controlling criterion. It may be pointed out that milling whole cane is a more difficult operation than milling stalk cane hence the proposed introduction of 6 mills to the tandem (total of 7 + shredder + crusher) and a more conservative extraction figure of 94% instead of the currently achieved 95.5% when milling only stalk cane.

CARBON DIOXIDE PRODUCTION No mention has as yet been made of the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. This would be substantial - 770 kg C0 2 /kl ethanol.

The simplest thing to do is to vent it to atmosphere after stripping it of ethanol vapour.

It could have some commercial value in the form of "dry ice" as a refrigerant but the local market for this would be rather limited and it might not be able to bear the cost of transport to a site where it would be of more value.

Table XXIV Estimated Cost of ethanol from whole cane including c e l l u l o s e h y d r o l y s i s for 80% a g r i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c t i v i t y . Costs are C/l e t h a n o l

using p o r t i o n of bagasse for fuel and m i l l i n g to 94% e x t r a c t i o n .

177 As a chemical it could have some value in converting ammonia to urea but it is unlikely that it could stand the cost of transport to a fertilizer plant making this conversion, and to compete with other sources of the gas.

The economics of using the carbon dioxide would have to be determined for each individual situation.

When processing 2 million tonnes of stalk cane a season there would be over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide generated in the fermentation step and correspondingly more if fibre from leaves and tops is also processed for ethanol. Carbonating of irrigation water could have interesting

fundamental effects on productivity

FUSEL OIL PRODUCTION Fusel oil is a mixture of alcohols of higher molecular weight than ethanol and are chiefly composed of propyl, butyl and amyl alcohols and possibly also some esters. litres per kl of ethanol. The amount is variable between about 3 and 11 If the production is 5 1 fusel oil/kl ethanol

then the total amount of fusel oil resulting from the processing of 2 m tonnes of stalk cane would be about 830 kl.

The fusel oil separates during the distillation operation and requires only storing and putting into containers such as drums. It is

likely that there would be a satisfactory market for this for the manufacture of solvents and other petro-chemicals, and at a price of the order of 10 times that of ethanol or say $2/1 net. of 1 c/1 ethanol. At this price it would represent a credit

Ho account of any fusel oil contribution has been included in the general costing.


Ethanol if intended for industrial use must be denatured or rendered unfit for drinking. There are various additives which may be used

for this purpose depending upon the ultimate use for the ethanol.

It is perhaps well first to list the main conditions which a denaturant is required to fulfill:-


It must be soluble in ethanol and petrol and in mixtures of these two substances.


It should impart a taste and smell sufficiently disagreeable to prevent ethanol being drunk even after dilution, sweetening or flavouring.


It should not be capable of being eliminated easily by filtration, distillation, precipitation or by any other operation which might be readily applied.


It should be capable of detection with ease and certainty even when present only in minute quantities.


It should be stable on keeping and should be unaffected by contact with metals. Conversely it should not corrode metals,

nor should the products of combustion be corrosive or of offensive smell. 6. 7. 8. It should not be actively poisonous. It should not add materially to the basic price of the ethanol. It should be obtainable in sufficient quantity, and not be liable to great fluctuations in supply or price.

There is in fact no single substance which completely fulfills all eight requirements.

Two possibilities appear to be worthy of primary consideration, viz. methanol and petrol or perhaps both.

If the ethanol distillery is suitably close to a petrol blending depot then direct blending with petrol for use within the distribution area of the depot would account for a proportion of the ethanol. could be transported "in bond" to a major blending depot. The balance

To transport large quantities of ethanol (such as by sea or road tanker) "in bond" would be a difficult exercise but should not be insuperable. unacceptable. It might well, however, be politically and/or socially

Simply to add 5% of petrol at source would be a moderate safeguard and could make "in bond"i transport less hazardous from the human consumption point of view.

Methanol is not as good a denaturant as

wood spirit

which is the

classical denaturant and is crude 77% methanol obtained by the distillation of wood, but now that wood distillation is no longer practised and methanol is readily manufactured from natural gas there is really no longer any choice.

The addition of 5% of chemical methanol would be about as effective as a similar quantity of petrol but would only have half of the fuel value of the petrol. In the small quantity used this may not be of significance.

The net cost of either the petrol or methanol would be the cost of transport to and from the distillery plus overhead charges. This should not

add more than a fraction of a cent to the cost of a litre of ethanol.

Petrol is a denaturant but not a good one as it can too easily be removed to make the ethanol potable. All that is required is to dilute 1

mixture with water when most of the petrol will separate to leave an aque<

ethanol containing only about 1% of petrol which can be readily removed by a simple distillation.

A trace of a strongly and offensively smelling additive could improve the value of either petrol or methanol as a denaturant or simply be sufficiently effective in its own right. which can be used in this way. Pyridine is one such compound

There are however, two quite effective compounds, either of which could probably be prepared at the distillery itself without too much difficulty. These are the products of bone or vulcanized tyre distillation.

Redistilled bone oil contains useful amounts not only of pyridine, but also of pyrrole the combination of which can be very objectionable in concentrations as low as 0.125%. The second distillation significantly Furthermore, this

improves the value of the bone oil as a denaturant.

denaturant cannot be removed from ethanol by any process commercially feasible.

Heating old motor car tyres made of vulcanized rubber (the sulphur used in the vulcanizing is important to this process) liberates very obnoxious products when distilled over the temperature range from ambient conditions up to 300. This has been known in the trade as "Caoutchoucine" and is Some pyridine added to this makes

required in concentrations of about 0.5%. it doubly effective.

It may well be found cheaper to purchase technical grades of pyridine,

pyrrole and-a suitably obnoxious compound containing sulphur as trade chemicals and transport them as such to the distillery.

Concentrations of 0.125% would require 1.25 kl per Ml of ethanol.

A dyestuff should also be added to characterise the appearance of the ethanol until such time as it is blended with petrol. The straight

ethanol could readily be identified and any subsequent dilution with water would be conspicuous.

The ethanol industry would have to stand the cost of control by excise officers for which a levy of 0.1c/1 would be required.


In view of the seasonal nature of the ethanol production appropriate storage facilities would be needed to carry over the non-productive period. Normally this would be about 22 weeks in a year but reduction to 13 weeks is envisaged for new area development.

The main markets initially would be the coastal cities and towns of central Queensland thereby reversing the cost structure of petrol distribution. This would fulfill the spirit of the legislation introduced

in the late 1920's for the use of ethanol from molasses fermentation when the high cost disadvantages cf petrol in north Queensland were restricting economic development.

If distribution is initially restricted to blending then it would soon become necessary to service Brisbane and Sydney. Production of 200 111

would be absorbed by 20% of Australia's total petrol consumption in a 7% blend.

Only elementary port facilities would be required - sufficient to be able to fill liquid tankers. A loading of 25 Ml would be for a small tanker

by today's standards and the reflective costs of operating a tanker of this size for 7 trips or for providing additional storage capacity to enable larger tankers to make fewer trips would need to be carefully evaluated.

181 A dyestuff should also be added to characterise the appearance of the ethanol until such time as it is blended with petrol. The straight

ethanol could readily be identified and any subsequent dilution with water would be conspicuous.

The ethanol industry would have to stand the cost of control by excise officers for which a levy of 0.1c/l would be required.

ETHANOL STORAGE In view of the seasonal nature of the ethanol production appropriate storage facilities would be needed to carry over the non-productive period. Normally this would be about 22 weeks in a year but reduction to 13 weeks is envisaged for new area development.

The main markets initially would be the coastal cities and towns of central Queensland thereby reversing the cost structure of patrol distribution. This would fulfill the spirit of the legislation introduced

in the late 1920's for the use of ethanol from molasses fermentation when the high cost disadvantages cf petrol in north Queensland were restricting economic development.

If distribution is initially restricted to blending then it would soon become necessary to service Brisbane end Sydney. Production of 200 111

would be absorbed by 20% of Australia's total petrol consumption in a 7% blend.

Only elementary port facilities would be required - sufficient to be able to fill liquid tankers. A loading of 25 Ml would be for a small tanker

by today's standards and the relative costs of operating a tanker of this size for 7 trips or for providing additional storage capacity to enable larger tankers to make fewer trips would need to be carefully evaluated.

182 It is worth mentioning here that ethanol storage is less of a fire hazard than corresponding storage of petrol and ethanol fires can be more readily extinguished because of its miscibility with water. appropriate fire precautions are essential. Nevertheless

THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF A LARGE SCALE SUGAR CANE-ETHANOL INDUSTRY New agricultural development on a large scale has a significant influence on the environment in any circumstances.

Destruction of rain forest country deprives the fauna of its habitat and they will virtually be destroyed with the forest. Land

recovered by clearing tropical rain forest is normally very rich in plant nutrients and has a correspondingly good texture. Insect pests may well

remain and some find the sugar cane to be a favourable host.

Grassland cleared for cultivation is likely to have a lesser effect on native fauna especially if it has not previously been a high rainfall area.

Development of irrigation on the other hand is more likely to attract fauna and stimulate flora as well as providing enhanced attractions for birdlife. Sugar cane is unlikely to experience deleterious effects

from these developments.

Almost invariably, however, new problems arise when new areas are developed and it is difficult to anticipate the precise nature of these problems.

For example a new area developed in Malaysia after clearing tropical rain forest grew sugar cane very successfully for a few months but was so badly damaged by a top borer infestation that further development

183 had to be delayed for a matter of years. The infestation did not respond

to insecticidal sprays and the developer was unwilling to pay the price of biological control.

There are other examples which could be cited from the sugar industry and such could be multiplied by examples from other types of crops.

However, there is a very substantial pool of experience in the existing Queensland sugar industry and maximum use should be made of this experience in the event of substantial development.

Sugar cane to replace grassland on even a vast scale can be very pleasing to the eye and present a rich green canopy over a big proportion of the land throughout the year.

The development of irrigation facilities - large storage dams and channels have the problems normal to developments of this character and of which there are many examples in Australia and a broad base of experience is available to anticipate problems in this area.

The establishment of the factory introduces additional environmental problems from the point of view of effluent waste disposal.

Gaseous effluents consist of flue gases from the furnaces of the steam generators and carbon dioxide from the fermenters. The flue gases

need to be cleaned of suspended solids - fly ash - by the installation of appropriate collectors in the system. These have now been well designed

for bagasse furnaces which had been particularly bad distributors of fly ash. Should coal be the preferred fuel then fly-ash collection presents no new problems and appropriate equipment is available. Sulphur dioxide is not

present in flue gases from bagasse combustion and is not a problem with flue gases from Queensland coals.

184 The carbon dioxide from the fermenters needs to be stripped of ethanol vapour and possibly odoriferous substances which are best removed with the ethanol vapour. This does not present serious difficulties.

Liquid effluent consists of slops from the stripping column and has an undesirable impact on the environment if discharged into streams or on vacant land. cane or pastures. It can be used, under control, for irrigation of sugar On the other hand the soluble solids are useful plant

nutrients and it is proposed in this report that they should be concentrated by multiple effect evaporation and distributed at a concentration of about 50 to 60% solids for use as fertilizer for growing the sugar cane, especially the ratoon crops.

There will also be some liquid washings from floors and process vessels. These should be collected and added to the slops for If they contain useful amounts of fermentable

concentration and disposal.

carbohydrate they could be used elsewhere in the system.

Additionally there will be water from the condensers.


should be recirculated through cooling towers, any surplus being suitable for irrigation.

There would be no solid effluent comparable to the filter muds from raw sugar factories but there may be some protein rich solids from separators. This could be used for fertilizer and recycled to the fields.

The ashes from the furnaces of the steam generators have a small value as either fertilizer or as clean filling for reclaiming otherwise waste land.

185 ETHANOL AND THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE Ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine there have been experiments on a range of fuels which could be used and ethanol was early on the list. A vast quantity of experimental information was

generated in laboratories up to V7orld War II and again in more recent years as interest in ethanol as a potential fuel has been regenerated.

There have also been several large scale tests on a normal operating scale including various ethanol-petrol mixtures in fleets of London buses. Most of the results from these tests have been somewhat confusing.

There is no doubt that ethanol and ethanol-petrol or benzol mixtures can be used quite well in standard internal combustion engines. It has

become clear that the real potential of ethanol could not be realized until the development of the high compression engine.

Tests before VJorld War II suffered from the problem of low compression engines and at that time the prospects that the motor industry would of its own initiative progress towards high compression ratios was not entirely anticipated.

There has been a substantial resurgence of experimental work in Brazil in recent years and tests there now indicate that a compression ratio of 10:1 is needed to get the best results from ethanol. With appropriate

engines operating on straight ethanol it has been found that 18% more power can be delivered per litre than with petrol although this is effectively cancelled by a 15 to 20% increase in the volumetric rate of consumption.

It has been found that because an ethanol engine can be tuned to run much leaner than a petrol burning engine the fuel is more completely burned giving ethanol a slight practical advantage in kilometer/litre

186 results and significantly lowers the amount of pollutants emitted.

Deductions of as much as 50% for carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen have been claimed. Furthermore, ethanol and ethanol-blended

petrol does not need tetra-ethyl lead additive to achieve satisfactory octane ratings and hence lead pollution of the atmosphere is eliminated.

When straight ethanol is used in the present day conventional motor car it is consumed faster but for blends up to 20% no engine adjustments are required.

Chrysler-Brazil have demonstrated that existing Chrysler motors could operate with up to 20% ethanol-petrol blend without retuning and with the alcohol blend to pass the very stringent California pollution specifications without special control equipment. FIAT-Brazil has

indicated that its model 1M-7 can be adapted to use 95% ethanol/water when they receive Government guidance to proceed. Brazil has been placing more

emphasis on the widescale use of the 95% ethanol presumably because it requires one less step for its production and the last step is rather heavy on steam consumption, although it is estimated here that the overall cost effect would be marginal.

In fact internal combustion engines will operate with ethanol/water mixtures as dilute as 50-50, but with much reduced power. A larger fuel

tank and larger jets in the carburettor are perhaps two of the most obvious adjustments needed to cope with this behaviour.

Dilute ethanol/water mixtures would also pose some starting problems needing something in the way of a primary fuel heater for initiation.

It has been observed that engines run on ethanol operate at lower temperatures and reduce the load on the radiator. The latent heat of

187 vapourization of ethanol is much higher than for petrol by a ratio of 2.5 to 1. One effect of this is for the vapour to be colder with a

tendency to enrich the mixture for which appropriate compensation is needed.

The fact that ethanol may have only two thirds of the net thermal value of petrol is by no means the whole story and compensation can be effected to cope with this.

The combustion of ethanol requires only two thirds of the amount of air which is required for petrol, hence the relative benefits achieved with ethanol in engines with super-high compression ratios. If we were

to compare fuels on the basis of the total heat energy liberated by the combustion of one litre of the correct explosive mixture we would find very little difference between the values for hexane (3.91kJ), benzene (3.8*0 and ethanol (3.83).

This is approximately the case for all hydrocarbon fuels as well as for alcohols but not for acetylene or hydrogen. acetylene is higher and that for hydrogen is lower. The value for

Direct injection of fuel into cylinders of an internal combustion engine has become more significant in recent years although still more costly than a carburettor installation. It has been suggested that the

ethanol fuels will reach the peak of their performance with high compression engines using fuel injection techniques. The main advantage of fuel

injection seems to be in the ability to distribute the petrol more uniformly between cylinders with perhaps lesser benefits in other characteristics of behaviour.

Recently experiments have been conducted in Brazil, to determine the usefulness of ethanol as a diesel fuel. The temperature at which

188 ignition of air/ethanol mixtures takes place upon adiabatic compression was known to be 100 higher than with corresponding air/petrol mixtures.

This would indicate the need for a higher compression ratio in the diesel engine to effect the desired ignition. However, the experiments in

Brazil have indicated that satisfactory operation with conventional diesel engines has been achieved with 50-50 mixtures of ethanol and diesel fuels.

Tests in Brazil with bedded turbine engines have indicated that ethanol is a good turbine fuel.

APPLICATION OF ETHANOL AS A MOTOR FUEL It is necessary to consider the various problems associated with the mechanics of distribution as well as of consumption.

Mention has been made of the possibility of initial distribution in blends up to 15 or even 30%. There has been previous experience in

Queensland with blends up to 15% but difficulties occurred at the upper end of this concentration range especially during the wet season in North Queensland. Separation into two phases was observed to develop in For mixtures

storage tanks, motor car tanks and in the carburettor bowl. up to 7% this problem was not noticed.

The first stage would be to replace leaded petrols substituting ethanol essentially as an anti-knock additive and give time for the progressive development of the new industry. If leaded petrols constitute

60% of total petrol consumption then for a total annual usage of IM- Gl this could accept up to 600M1 for a blend strength of 7%. For this, some

110,000 ha (gross) of sugar cane growing area would need to be developed, equivalent in scale to approximately one third of the present Queensland sugar industry.

189 The second stage is envisaged as blending the balance of Australia's petrol to the 7% concentration stage to consume 1 Gl of ethanol requiring 185,000 ha (gross) area developments.

The problem of two phase separation from 15% blends may not be so serious in the cooler or drier parts of Australia, and perhaps half of the total consumption could safely be blended to this strength. could use another 500 Ml requiring a further development of 90,000 ha (gross). This

These three stages would require a total of 285,000 ha or 11 units of 35,000 ha producing 2.1 Gl of ethanol to displace 15% of total petrol consumption, and slightly more than double the size of the present Queensland sugar industry.

The fourth stage would be to market straight ethanol as a motor car fuel from bowsers side-by-side with petrol bowsers. Many things would

need to be done before this could be carried out to the full satisfaction of both customer and marketer.

First of all a reliable system would have to be devised to prevent illegal dilution of the ethanol with water before sale to petrol station or ultimate consumer.

Coloriumetric measurements of a dye might be made instantaneously during metering if a suitable photo-cell arrangement were devised. Some

electrical property of ethanol-water mixtures might be found to be more suitable. Even direct measurement of density using a gamma-ray technique

might be brought into an acceptable cost range by mass production techniques.

Ethanol with up to 10% of water might well become acceptable as a


standard:: or lower grade of motor spirit although the 95% C.B.M. would be

190 more easily marketed it being less expensive to produce requiring one less stage of distillation. starting problems. The 95% ethanol should not introduce any

If flash point temperature can be taken as an

indication of the starting characteristics of a motor fuel then 95% ethanol/water should present no problems from this point of view with a flash point temperature of 13.5 compared to 23 3 for petrol. proof spirit Even

(57.1% of ethanol v/v) ?ias a flash point temperature the It should be noted that this is proof spirit

same as petrol at 23.3.

according to the British regulations. reference point for

The U.S.A. has a different

proof spirit , viz. 500 v/v.

As has been pointed out acceptability of ethanol as a motor fuel has had to await the development of high compression engines. The use

of aqueous ethanol would progressively reduce the load on the cooling circuit and whereas an air cooled engine for a motor car is now a well accepted type, a 50--50 aqueous ethanol might enable even water cooled engines to operate in an air cooling situation. In other words make possible the marketing of a

low powered car with a very simple type and less expensive air-cooled engine.

Whilst waiting for the development of the high compression engine there have been many mixtures of ethanol and other types of liquid fuel which have been used either experimentally or commercially.

Many of the tests carried out before the second world war - and the actual number was really very large - are not immediately clear as to whether pure ethanol was used or the 95% CD.II. It is in fact most probably

the latter except for certain specially designed tests, because of the rather higher cost of producing anhydrous ethanol before the modern ternary distillation techniques were industrially developed.

191 Care must therefore be exercised in evaluation these results. For example in tests run with benzol-alcohol mixtures, problems were experienced with two phase separation at low temperatures. Better

experiences were recorded at higher temperatures under which condition this particular mixture is more satisfactory than a corresponding petrolalcohol mixture. London winter. But a reversal takes place at lower temperatures -

Thus at 0 plus 90% alcohol.

solid benzene separates from a 50% mixture of benzene

In ethanol-petrol mixtures the precise nature of the petrol has quite an important influence on the properties of the mixture. Petrol

with a high proportion of aromatic hydrocarbons (up to 38%) is reported to be more suitable for mixing with ethanol than petrols consisting chiefly of paraffinic hydrocarbons.

A mixture of 50 parts ethanol (90%) with 25% of benzol and 25% of paraffinic petrol was reported to have given satisfactory results in Germany.

Studies of the properties of mixtures of this character would seem to be warranted for going to a higher proportion of ethanol in commonly marketed motor fuels.

Certain mixtures containing ethanol have found favour with racing motorists. One preferred mixture contains 77% of the 95% C.B.M. mixed Another mixture containing 48%

with 22.5% of aromatic hydrocarbons.

combined with 29.5% of aromatic hydrocarbons, 15% of paraffins and 7.5% of naphthenes is more of a commercial grade of fuel. Note should be made

that this particular racing mixture has a net thermal value of 30kJ/g compared with 34 kJ/g for the commercial mixture and 43.7kJ/g for regular

192 It is obvious that the racing motorist using the ethanol/aromatic hydrocarbon mixture has been looking for something valuable to him which is not predicted simply by the net thermal value. Just what it is may not

be clear but is worth some study for the current situation.

Aromatics in motor fuel originate as such in the crudes although they may be given a reforming treatment in the refinery. Motor fuel originating

from oil shale is also usually rich in aromatic components.

aphthene based fuel which has some special interest in this (c10H12)This is

context is that known as tetralin - tetrahydronaphthalene

a very good fuel for diesel engines but cannot be used for a motor fuel in its undiluted form because of its high boiling point (206 ). It is however

considered to be very suitable when mixed with petrol, benzol or ethanol. However, the concentration of tetralin should not exceed 25% or running difficulties are experienced.

One suitable mixture is:-

Benzole - 50% Tetralin - 25% 95% Ethanol/water - 25%

The final boiling point of a petrol should not exceed 185


tetralin at 206 is slightly higher than the figure specified for petrol. Motor benzole in this context contains about 96% of aromatic hydrocarbons, 1.5% of paraffins and 2.5% of unsaturated hydrocarbons.

In warmer temperature zones naphthalene itself may be tolerated in petrols in quite significant quantities, but is very much less soluble in ethanol hence these mixtures should be avoided. Naphthalene is not

currently believed to be a common constituent of petrol in Australia,

193 although it was used privately in Queensland as an unrationed, if expensive, additive during World War II, and presumably with satisfaction to the user under the circumstances.

In Germany, a mixture known as "Reichskraftstoff" was used during World War I and consisted of equal proportions of benzol, tetralin and 90% thanol/water.

Diethyl ether is probably the next additive to be considered which has been used with ethanol on a commercial scale. Although the ether has

only 20% higher thermal value than ethanol it is much more volatile and should be able to improve the starting characteristics substantially. Whilst

its boiling point is only 34.6 ., which presents certain climatic problems for its manufacture in Australia, the initial boiling point of ordinary motor fuel is around 37.

The fact that ethyl ether can be manufactured from ethanol by a relatively simple technique makes it attractive in this context. This

simply involves dehydration either in the liquid phase using sulphuric acid as the catalyst or in the vapour phase using alumina as a catalyst. Another simple method developed for use in this particular context merely bubbled ethanol vapour through a mixture of ethanol and sulphuric acid at a temperature between 100 and 150 . The product was rectified and

mixed with ethanol to suit.

The separation of water from mixtures of ethanol and ether seems not so likely to occur as with ethanol-benzene or ethanol petrol mixtures. From a study of phase equilibrium data for the 3 component systems, it appears that up to 30% of water may be mixed with the ethanol and still be completely miscible with ethyl ether over the temperature range 0 to 25 .

Ethanol-ether mixtures were used in South Africa in the sugar belt as early as 1918 under the trade name of "Natalite". These contained 60%

194 ethanol (95%) and 40% of ethyl ether. It seems that some corrosion

problems must have been experienced with the exhaust system as 1% of ammonia had also been added to the fuel.

Very favourable reports of the use of this fuel were recorded with consumption figures up to 86% of those obtained with petrol in the same vehicle although the net thermal value of the mixture was only 68% of that of the petrol (v/v).

Although the Natalite was reported to be free of detonation problems in the low compression engines of those days this was by no means the case with ether-petrol mixtures. The latter was confirmed by unofficial There would seem to be

experimenters in this field during World War II.

room for some study of the detonation behaviour of ethanol-ether mixtures in the higher compression cars of the present day.

The theoretical yield of ether is only about 5 litres from 6 litres of 95% ethanol so that the higher the proportion of ether the higher the cost of the fuel.

During the latter part of World War II the Hawaiian sugar industry considered the possibility of an ethanol-ether motor fuel but it does not appear to have been proceeded with, not having got established before petrol began to be available, in ever increasing supply.

A mixture of 5% ether with 65% of ethanol (95%) and 30% benzol was subjected to bench tests by the London General Omnibus Co. in 1919 with seemingly satisfactory results. In France a mixture containing 10% ether,

25% benzol and 65% ethanol (95%) was used at about the same time and known as "E.H.A"

195 Since the end of the last century there have been suggestions for using an ethanolic solution of acetylene as a motor fuel. Acetylene

is soluble in ethanol to the extent of six volumes at ordinary temperatures (English) and pressures but will not stand high compression without preignition. Gases dissolved in liquids do not form a particularly stable

system and are partially given off in storage which would result in undesirable conditions in the petrol tank of a motor car.

Acetone may be mixed with ethanol or ethanol-petrol mixtures but there is not a great deal of information available on their use.

Acetone would normally be more expensive than either ether or ethanol unless it is produced at a satisfactory cost by a fermentation process. It can be an associated fermentation product with ethanol under

certain circumstances and increase the overall yield of volatile liquid from the raw material. Here again more information is needed about such

processes to effect a reasonable costing.

A patent was taken out in the U.S.A. in 1919 for a mixture of ethanol, acetone and cellulose nitrate. This could be an alternative way of achieving

use of the cellulose in bagasse as a motor fuel rather than carrying out a difficult hydrolysis for fermentation. Perhaps cellulose acetate might

be less dangerous to handle and less difficult to make with the acetic anhydride being derived from ethanol.

196 Development Options

I n t h i s r e p o r t i t i s merely intended t o o u t l i n e p o s s i b l e options which are a v a i l a b l e for development, as considerations a d d i t i o n a l to s t r i c t l y t e c h n i c a l and economic factors need to be taken i n t o account when making d e c i s i o n s .

From the point of view of time-scale requirements it would be expected t h a t a more d e t a i l e d f e a s i b i l i t y study would be required before reaching a deci si on-making stage with r e s p e c t to s p e c i f i c implementation.

There are two important areas where more d e t a i l e d information is needed. These are (1) s p e c i f i c problems r e l a t e d to the fermentation

c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of sugar cane j u i c e to provide s u f f i c i e n t information to design hydrolysis and fermentation v e s s e l s e s p e c i a l l y such as could be used for continuous operation and (2) s p e c i f i c problems r e l a t e d to the hydrolysis and fermentation of sugar cane f i b r e .

The second group of problems is the more d i f f i c u l t and is l i k e l y to take longer, b u t the f i r s t group is b a s i c to t h e whole enterprise. The e n t e r p r i s e could be launched with only the f i r s t e f f e c t i v e l y solved and the fibre could q u i t e w e l l

group of problems

be used as fuel u n t i l such time as i t s problems are solved.

It could be well s a i d t h a t a complete s o l u t i o n to both or e i t h e r problem would require i n f i n i t e time.

The raw sugar industry in Queensland is i t s e l f considered to be highly developed from the technological point of view, but the industry has been s y s t e m a t i c a l l y and s c i e n t i f i c a l l y studying i t s

197 problems for nearly 50 years and is s t i l l spending at l e a s t $3,000,000 a y e a r on research. Any suggestion t h a t it has solved i t s problems

a f t e r 50 years of research would have a very cool r e c e p t i o n .

The study of j u i c e hydrolysis urgent of the two major problem a r e a s .

and fermentation are t h e more There is a great deal of

information about processing r e l a t e d m a t e r i a l s but s p e c i f i c information is needed about o p e r a t i o n a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s at the concentration range of juices and as the non-sucrose s o l u t e s are r a t h e r less than for the r e l a t e d molasses the e f f e c t s of t h i s change a l s o need to be known.

A properly organised programme aimed at t h i s goal should be able to generate s u f f i c i e n t information within a period of 12 months to enable the design of procedures and equipment to be undertaken with the necessary confidence.

VThilst a workable s o l u t i o n to the fibre problem may not be q u i t e so urgent it w i l l probably take longer, but the value of the goal is high - i t s s o l u t i o n could ultimately double the production of ethanol from a given area of c u l t i v a t i o n .

To design and b u i l d a factory from the date of decision is estimated to take 2 years for a dual operation u n i t and 3 years for an e n t i r e l y new p l a n t . The development of a new p l a n t in a new area

requires a l s o t h e development of t h a t area with the appropriate i n f r a structure. Land development requires not only c l e a r i n g and l e v e l l i n g

b u t a l s o a s s o c i a t e d drainage and flood mitigation as w e l l as water storage and i r r i g a t i o n r e t i c u l a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s . Simply surveying the

land and s e t t i n g it out for development w i l l take up to 12 months.

198 P l a n t i n g and growing the crop must be done in a step-wise fashion so t h a t the factory would be unlikely to como on-stream at f u l l production capacity i n i t s f i r s t season. I n the f i r s t season i t

would be unlikely to exceed 45 to 50% of r a t e d capacity because of the time required to grow the necessary p l a n t i n g material in the f i r s t place and then the main crop i t s e l f . The second season could be at 70 to 80%

of capacity with f u l l capacity operation being achieved in the t h i r d season.

This s i g n i f i c a n t l y affects cash-flow b e n e f i t s for both the farm and the factory and must be recognised. On the other hand progressive

development towards f u l l capacity enables a b e t t e r understanding to be obtained of the o p e r a t i o n a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s not only of factory equipment but a l s o of the mechanical f i e l d equipment and of the t r a n s p o r t a t i o n system.

By way of comparison with recent achievements - it took 6 years to b r i n g the J u l i u s Dam at Mt. I s a i n t o commission from the time of the preliminary r e p o r t in 19 70 to 19 76. This was a $33 M. undertaking.

P r e d i c t i n g the Future

To look i n t o the c r y s t a l b a l l and p r e d i c t the future is fraught with many d i f f i c u l t i e s not the l e a s t of which is the experience of many p r e d i c t o r s in t h e f i e l d of economics whose p r e d i c t i o n s are very often self-defeating.

Before attempting a p r e d i c t i o n it is w e l l to look back i n t o the p a s t , and t o get a b e t t e r perspective i t i s d e s i r a b l e t o look back for more than one generation. For t h i s exercise a period of 40

years is used, being the working l i f e - t i m e of the w r i t e r and changes

199 are within the time-span of memory as w e l l as of experience. Actually it does n o t make a g r e a t deal of difference if one goes back 100 years or 400 years . Picking an i n d i v i d u a l year is not

p a r t i c u l a r l y s a t i s f a c t o r y a s t h i s i s s u s c e p t i b l e t o the e f f e c t o f aberrant f l u c t u a t i o n s in the general t r e n d .

B e t t e r bases for comparison are a five y e a r average at the beginning and end of a 50 year time-span. However 19 36/76 figures give

a useful guide to the r a t e at which change has taken place in A u s t r a l i a and periods of i n f l a t i o n , d e f l a t i o n , depression and r e f l a t i o n have been by no means uncommon experiences whatever names have been coined, as w e l l as d i s a s t e r s both man-made and n a t u r a l .

The r e t a i l p r i c e of sugar in A u s t r a l i a has increased at the average r a t e of 3.2% p . a . and the r e t a i l p r i c e of p e t r o l by p r a c t i c a l l y the same amount depending on what figure is accepted as the r e t a i l p r i c e of p e t r o l in 19 76 or 19 77. The r e t a i l p r i c e of eggs has increased by

6% and bread by about the same.

The London free market p r i c e of sugar may be s a i d to have increased by around 8% although there have been numerous major and minor i n s t a b i l i t i e s .

The average Australian wage has increased by 8% on gross earnings although closer to 7% on n e t e a r n i n g s , whereas an executive receiving a s a l a r y of $30,000 in 1976/77 would be in a bracket which has experienced a gross r a t e of increase around 9% and n e t a l i t t l e under 8%.

In attempting to p r e d i c t l i k e l y costs over the period 19 81-19 89 with 1985 as the median y e a r , the r e t a i l p r i c e of sugar could be expected


to be around 35CAg and the p r i c e of p e t r o l 2 2 c / l if we could expect the base p r i c e of crude o i l to be unaffected.

The average wage would be close to $350/week and the executive s a l a r y $60 ,000/annum.

What we cannot p r e d i c t are d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s in the curve, but we can make an estimate of t h e p r o b a b i l i t i e s of such happenings. example there is a 90% p r o b a b i l i t y t h a t the r e t a i l p r i c e of p e t r o l w i l l r i s e at a f a s t e r r a t e than 3% which could well include a steep s t e p superimposed on the a n t i c i p a t e d curvature. For

The r e t a i l p r i c e of sugar on the Australian domestic market has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been w e l l regulated and there is a high p r o b a b i l i t y t h a t t h i s may continue.

On the o t h e r hand the London daily free market p r i c e of sugar has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been s u b j e c t to s u b s t a n t i a l f l u c t u a t i o n s and t h e r e is every reason to believe t h a t t h i s w i l l continue to be the case.

Looking s p e c i f i c a l l y at the subject of Australian sugar production, it is evident t h a t productivity and efficiency must have improved at a f a s t e r r a t e than the increase of wages. For example

the cost of h a r v e s t i n g is very l i t t l e d i f f e r e n t in 1977 to t h a t which was t h e cost in 19 37 - per tonne of cane. The cost of f e r t i l i s e r has

increased but the cost of application has been held or even reduced in c e r t a i n s i t u a t i o n s . The cost of t r a n s p o r t i n g cane from f i e l d to

factory has probably increased at 5 to 6% p. a.

There has been l i t t l e done to the average s i z e of t h e farm in order to contain c o s t s , changes have been developmental and the


e f f e c t s marginal.

The average s i z e of the factory has increased and

marginal improvements have been made to processing but there have been no fundamental changes. The ''undetermined loss" experienced in

processing has been minimised and much b e t t e r control of a l l operations has been achieved as w e l l as of thermal b a l a n c e s .

What of an ethanol production p l a n t ?

It could be expected

t h a t many d i f f i c u l t i e s would be experienced with processing techniques during the e a r l y stages r e q u i r i n g probably 3 to 5 seasons to e f f e c t i v e l y eliminate t e e t h i n g t r o u b l e s .

There would seem to be b e t t e r prospects for containing costs in the f i e l d than in the factory provided a new s t a r t can be made, l i b e r a t e d from the self-imposed r e s t r i c t i o n s of the present sugar industry. wisely s o . This has been s p e c i f i c a l l y geared to sugar production and

It would be unwise to tamper with the s t r u c t u r e of the sugar industry where it is e s s e n t i a l l y producing food for human consumption. To produce an energy product in the form of l i q u i d fuel for i n t e r n a l combustion engines means e n t e r i n g a f i e l d of operation with e n t i r e l y different constraints.

The Queensland sugar industry currently spends something over $3 M p. a. on organised research or 15c/Te cane and has had highly t r a i n e d groups of s c i e n t i s t s studying i t s problems for j u s t on 50 years at a reasonably high degree of i n t e n s i t y and to a l e s s e r degree for another 25 y e a r s .

Much of t h e e f f o r t has gone i n t o the breeding of sugar cane and t h e c o n t r o l of diseases and p e s t s and r i g h t l y s o . The development

202 of the Australian cane harvester features prominently in local achievements although there have also been developments in this area in other countries, suited more to their particular needs.

Otherwise the industry has very largely acquired technology, modified it to suit its needs and very often improved it under local conditions. Any claims to lead the world sugar industry in technology

should be seen from the perspective of effective application rather than fundamental developments.

An ethanol industry would be wise to take the fullest possible advantage of the substantial Australian developments in cane breeding and disease and pest control as well as cultural practices and go on to develop fresh applications of mechanized technology under a new set of operating conditions. It would need to establish its own expertise in these areas

and intercommunication between the two areas would be of substantial benefit to each.

On the process side of ethanol production there are areas of uncertainty for which the investment of funds for research and development would be required at an early stage.

We do not know enough about the hydrolysis and fermentation characteristics of sugar cane juice to be able to design the best type and size of equipment for these processes. pert inent are:Some of the questions which are


Can juice be efficiently fermented without dilution over and above that used for maceration?

(b) (c)

Is it necessary to clarify juice before hydrolysis/fermentation? What are the physical properties and chemical composition of concentrated slops?


What is the best thermal cycle for the distillery?

The major area of uncertainty at present is in the chemistry and technology of the use of the fibre. Burning the fibre efficiently is

very well understood in the sugar industry and the Queensland industry is well to the fore in this respect. There is no reason why this

technology should not be transferred to the ethanol industry.

To convert the fibre efficiently to ethanol would be a more valuable achievement. Currently it is estimated that 5 0 % of the

theoretical conversion of the cellulose component of the fibre could be converted to ethanol (26.5% of dry weight of fibre) with a 7 0 % hydrolysis efficiency and 7 2 % fermentation efficiency. By dint of good research the

combination of these two steps might be increased to 6 0 % within 5 years but to raise it to 7 0 % would take rather longer. Some entirely new

development would be needed to expect the overall conversion efficiency to rise to 80 or 90%.

New processes, as with new technology, are unpredictable to a large extent, but the probability for such a development within a time span of 10 years might be estimated at 7 0 % (or 2:1 in favour) if the incentive is there by way of a viable industry.

A sugar cane/ethanol industry should be able to support its own research and development once it has become viably operational but stimulation will be needed in the preliminary stages. difficult but an initial investment of $3m is To set figures is

considered to be the order of

magnitude required to cover effectively questions to which answers are needed for plant design to be undertaken with confidence. A further $10m

would be needed to acquire land for plant breeding facilities and establish buildings, provide equipment and recruit staff for the basic research needed to underpin the industry. This money could be amortized and recouped from An operating levy of 30/Te cane

the industry when it is established.

is considered to be the type of levy needed to support a research and development programme on a scale compatible with the standard of efficiency to be expected.

204 OVERALL EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME PROSPECTS The present Queensland sugar industry employs a total of about 35,000 persons made up of 7000 farmers, about 7500 employed in 30 sugar mills and 20,500 other workers mostly employed by farmers either directly or by contract for varying periods. Of a gross income of the order of

$750m perhaps two thirds would be distributed among the 35,000 persons or an average of $14,286. If we index the personal component at 7% this would If the industry is unable to expand On

be equivalent to $24,550 by 1985.

further it would be necessary to reduce the work force to 26,000.

the other hand if expansion continues at the average world rate of increase in consumption of 3.39% and price increases by 3.2% then the work force could be maintained and in fact increased to 35,600.

The increase in sugar production would amount to 1.07MTe of which O.401MTe would be expected from the normal rate of increase of productivity. An additional 73,000 ha would need to be assigned which if done progressively would represent an annual increase of 2.56%.

Achievement of any of these figures would only be remarkable in the sense that they predicate no failure of the overseas export market but maintenance of the growth rate that has been the average figure over the last 40 years.

In the event of failure of the overseas export market, ethanol production could not become an economically viable alternative without a reduction in the workforce or a reduction in the average income of employed persons. 34.3C/1. Ethanol would need to achieve a monetary return at the rate of This is by no means impossible if a rate of increase of price of Also a marginal reduction in the work

M.E. crude oil is maintained at 8%.

force could be sustained by virtue of the likelihood that processing for ethanol would require fewer persons than when processing the same tonne of cane for raw sugar.

205 On the other hand comparisons with an ethanol industry operating in a new area with properties larger than 1600 ha could be invidious.

If we now look at a corresponding picture in a projected ethanol industry of one QSI unit the total number of factory employees would be around 1500. For 50 ha farms there would be 7000 farmers and perhaps Costing at $24,550/person

16,500 other workers or a total of 25,000.

this would represent 29.5C/1 of ethanol - not very much below the figure for the expanded present industry.

The actual cost estimated for production under these conditions was 23.9C/1 (Table XVIII), implying a total work force of 13,500 or 10,500 to assist the farmers instead of 16,5003 or 1.5 additional employees per farmer instead of 2.36. The reasons for this are largely related to the

social changes predicated for 7 day/week operation and 39 week season and have been discussed earlier in some detail. A broad overall comparison

of this type with the present sugar industry is not strictly correct but is left this way for the time being.

Looking at the 1600 ha properties for which a price of 15.45c/l (Table XVIII) was calculated this would represent employment for 8140 persons or 30 persons per property. It is considered that a work force of 16

persons per property would be a more realistic figure under the conditions of management and mechanization envisaged - or a total work force of 5000 for factory and field. This would allow more money to be devoted to

servicing the extra capital needed to achieve the specified degree of mechan ization.

The employment requirements for 35,000 ha estates producing ethanol at 14.46/1 are not significantly different.

206 Looking at the other end of the spectrum for ethanol at 8.4c/l and 1600 ha properties (Table XXIII) with 20 factories/QSI unit a total of 10,000 could be employed for the same proportion of gross income for employment as above (viz. 41% as compared to a figure of 67% assessed here for present QSI disbursement). A work force of 32 per property would thus

be indicated whereas 25 might more realistically compare with the 16 mentioned above. The extra 9 persons are envisaged as needed to cope with The total work

the higher field productivity specified for this exercise. force for factory and field would then be 8500.

The work force per unit factory district would thus be of the order of 425 to 500. It is recognised that employment generates other employment

and a multiplying factor of 3 is not uncommon to quantify this effect. Thus total employment in a new QSI with supporting services would be of the order of 20,000 to 40,000 persons.

The total employment generated to provide 14 Gl of ethanol per annum would be around 80,000 persons. This does not include the large work

force which would be needed for development representing probably another 20,000 persons plus support employment of 60,000. The actual number would

of course depend upon the rate of development which would be conditioned by policy determinations, rate of availability of capital and logistic requirements of the operation.

Some of this work force, especially from the support services would no doubt remain to become more permanently settled in the industry.

Looking again at a single community of 2000 working persons this would represent a total community needed to service the district, and it is considered that it would be better for the community to live in three settled areas - one of 3000 to service the factory and portion of the property needs and the other two of 1500 persons each to be suitably located to service the needs of the remainder of the properties. A similar

207 arrangement could operate for larger properties or even for a 35,000 ha estate.

Should 50 ha estates be preferred direct employment would approach 90,000 per 14 Gl-year or 360,000 including multiplied personnel or community totals around a million people. VJhilst there may be many

advantages associated with such numbers it would be in terms of a national cost of 24C/1 for ethanol supplies which by the time this pervades the general cost structure is believed to be less beneficial to the national good. Also the query arises whether as a nation we could afford a work

force of this magnitude with a community forming 7% of our present population.

Although 7 day week and 24 hr/day operation has been specified for maximising the use of mechanical equipment the total number of people actually rostered for this type of work would probably not be more than 300 including the factory or 15% of the total work force employed in the district. It would have an important social effect but not dominating.

The background to the commendation of 1600 ha properties with community settlement and continuous operation of mechanized equipment lies in the writer's experiences in numerous countries with an assortment of cultural fulfillment varying from cane sugar factories of 1500 Te cane/day employing 700 workers employed for 12 hrs/day and 7 days/week to beet sugar factories of 5 times this rated capacity employing only 20 workers on 4 shift roster system. 10,000 or 20,000 ha. From farms as small as one hectare to estates of Also a number of years were spent in the Australian

metallurgical industry where 24 hr/day and 365 day/yr was indispensible.

The synthesis represents the selection of the best techniques arranged to minimise costs and maximise human endeavour. A personal

preference is expressed for the 1600 ha properties as retaining a sufficient measure of personal oversight and responsibility in contrast to less personal concern commonly associated with the management of area-unit estates.


We have become progressively accustomed to the application of automatic process control techniques to industrial equipment and in more recent years to the development of over-riding computerized systems for co-ordinating and directing the combined production procedures. Introducing space-age

technology refers essentially to the sophisticated development of remote control. The requirements for effecting this on an industrial site do not

involve difficult communications links and even sugar cane complexes are gradually evolving in this direction.

More innovative developments seem possible on the agricultural side once a concept of large property operation is accepted or better still an estate of the 35,000 ha unit size considered in this report.

For example driving a tractor in the operations of field preparation represents a significant under-usage of the capabilities of the driver. Except for the procedures involved in turning at the end of each row, the remainder of the operation is very boring and demands little attention.

Remote control of moving objects has become familiar to many hobbyists interested in model aeroplanes or boats and appropriate equipment is available at most hobbyshops within a modest price-range. More sophisticated

activities of this type have become familiar to Australians in the Jindivik or the Ikara defence developments. There seems to be no technical reason

why such types of control facilities should not be applied to tractors and for remote control to be effected through video technology. With this type

of technology it should be feasible for one operator to be able to "drive" ten tractors simultaneously from the comfort of a control room comparable to that of a nuclear power station or airport control tower situation.

With development cf this character there appear

to be no technical

reason why the control room should not be located in Brisbane or in any other selected locality. Land line communication could accomplish

connection with the remoter area but greater flexibility should be achievable through a national satellite system, the establishment of which is being considered for 1985 or thereabouts.

The capital cost of establishing remote control facilities might well reach $500 m a figure which would be offset by the fact of operators living in an established community large enough to be viable in its own right. each operator located in the established community is able to relieve the need for 5 operators in the remote area this could in turn relieve the ethanol establishment cost of $350 (50)m and the expenditure of $1000 (150)m for supporting personnel. would be envisaged rather than 6000. Thus remote communities of 1500 persons If

Once procedures had been developed the possibilities of electronic programming could be studied and progressively applied until perhaps one operator could be responsible for the remote control of 50 tractor units.

The operation of planting would be difficult to conduct completely by remote control but this could no doubt be developed with a progressively diminishing degree of local assistance, again with the intention of reducing the manual assistance component as automation is developed.

The application of irrigation is a significant component of the growing cost and would require the development of maximum efficiency in usage as well as in application. of techniques. This also involves appropriate selection

Instrumental methods of estimating water requirements by

agricultural land in specific places at specific times are available and used in many places. Telemetering of information to provide computer

monitoring of the status of any selected area at any particular time is a

210 logical next step using already well established technology. Certain

areas of agriculture in the U.S.A. are in fact already using remote control features for the application of irrigation in large area situations. Experimental work is currently proceeding in the IJambour area with means for automatic application control in relation to prevailing evaporation rates and has reached a useful stage of development.

The harvester would also be difficult to operate by remote control but by no means impossible. It has up to 15 control features incorporated

into its operation to each of which a suitable sensing device would need to be adapted.

One important feature in the development of space-age technology has been the marked improvement in the reliability of remote operating systems and the ability to incorporate a wide range of adjustment facilities. There would still need to be maintenance personnal located in the remote areas and these would need to represent a range of skills from mechanical to electrical as well as micro-electronics technology. The last-named field

is essentially a development of television maintenance procedures involving the identification of troubles, their location and the replacement of components. A very high degree of reliability in micro-electronics has

been progressively developing and more faults appear to surface from a newly commissioned item than with equipment in which the initial problems have been rectified.

A picture evolves in which a control centre might be established adjacent to Brisbane - further centralization within the greater Brisbane region itself would seem to be retrograde - from which the operations of both farm and factory could be directed. A single building divided into

10 main control groups would suffice for each Q.S.I. unit.

Each district instead of requiring a community of 6000 could function with a community of 1500 or possibly as low as 1000 as the generating factor

of the smaller community would have a smaller local component.

There would be nothing significant by way of new technology involved in an establishment of the type just envisaged, it is the logical direction of development for a new industry established to cater for the liquid energy needs of the dawning 2ist century.

It would be desirable and justified on the grounds of sound economic assessments and a lower price for ethanol. An endeavour has been made

to do this with respect to 35,000 ha estates and high productivity conditions. Stepping from the estimated cost components set out in Table

XXIII a corresponding cost estimate has been itemised in Table XXV.

The overall result of this estimation indicates an ethanol price of 7.53c/l ex distillery with the application of space-age technology to compare with 8.01C/1 without sophisticated remote control facilities. This represents a reduction of only 6% in the ex-distillery price but for a total production of 14 Gl would be equivalent to $67m/year.

As the estimated price of ethanol recedes the scope for further reductions likewise diminishes although the possibility of reducing the price to 7 or even 6c/l could be envisaged. Every extra cent is becoming

more and more difficult to cut, but 3 to 5C/1 may not be impossible.


213 ENERGY BALANCE Information relevant to the energy requirement is incorporated in Figures 1, 2 and 3 together with the materials balance and a simplified flow sheet. In Figure 1 conditions have been set out for the dual

production of raw sugar crystal and ethanol in the same factory and the energy factor of chief significance is that there should be adequate bagasse to provide the steam required for both processes with a potential surplus of 31.7% The ethanol route is shown requiring 6.44- kg steam per

litre of ethanol or m . 5 MJ of latent heat in steam to produce 21.3 MJ of N.Th.V. potential in the ethanol or a net gain of 32%. If the steam

is generated from bagasse it can be done with an efficiency of 82% relative to N.Th.V., or if generated from coal or oil it may be done at higher efficiencies. If we assumed a steam generator efficiency of 85% Approximately

this would represent an overall net thermal gain of 2 0%.

1% would also be used for mechanical equipment employed in producing and transporting the cane. The mechanical component of milling which is

included in the production figure represents around M-% of the ethanol N.Th.V.

If ethanol is produced as the sole product from juice extracted from the stalk of the sugar cane (Figure 2) then 7.3 kg steam are shown as being required to produce a litre of ethanol. The main reason for the slightly

higher steam consumption resides in the use of molasses from the raw sugar crystal production route which has been debited for its concentration.

The net gain in thermal energy is only 9% (with steam generation at 85%) reducible to 8% after allowing for the energy of cane production.

In these processes the fuel has actually been produced by photosynthesis with continuing capability and used at lower furnace efficiency as a convenient means of disposing of the surplus. Generation of additional

electrical power would of course be an option open to development for the potential surplus of fuel.

In the event of cellulose being hydrolyzed for fermentation to ethanol a fuel supplement may or may not be needed. Figure 3 illustrates a route

in which all of the bagasse has been subjected to hydrolysis treatment and coal is used as a fuel supplement.

The steam requirement for this route is indicated as 6.7 kg/1 of ethanol equivalent to a net thermal gain of 29% reducible to 16% in terms of the N.Th.V. of the fuel used to generate the steam. Alternatively we might look

at the thermal gain in terms of usage of non-renewable energy source in which case it would represent a gain of 64-%.

It is believed that there is scope for reducing the thermal needs of the process to a figure closer to 6 kg/1 in which case the net thermal gain would be increased to 24% in terms of total fuel used.

The residues from the hydrolysis heap and recycled for fuel are shown as lignin to represent 19'j of the dry fibre weight of the cane (some Queensland data have shown as high as 23%) and 24% of the cellulose to represent a recovery of 48% of the unhydrolyzed fraction. assumed that the pentosans have been hydrolysed. It has been

An alternative to the evaporation of distillery slops would be to pump to storage and reticulate for irrigation as and when required. supplementation of fresh water would probably be needed for processing unless effective recycling within the process can be accomplished. The Some

proportion of dilute slops to ethanol varies from 6.9 (Figure 1) to 8.2 (Figure 2) to 8.8 (Figure 3) kg/1.

The energy used for evaporating the slops varies from 39 to 25 kJ/kg of dry slops solids - including correction for steam generation efficiency. The energy required to transport the dilute slops to the fields would need to be carefully costed in terms of the technique adopted but may well be of a similar order of magnitude.

It had been considered that outgoing concentrated slops could be returned by using the transport system bringing the cane to the factory for returning it to the field. The outgoing concentrated slops would be only

about 5% of the weight of incoming cane hence the system would be quite capable of handling this. On the other hand unconcentrated slops would This

only be about the same weight as the cane coming to the factory. could no doubt be done but would be an untidy exercise.


there is some doubt about the usability of fresh distillery slops for irrigation, it may need aeration. As irrigation it would represent only

about a 25 mm application which is very marginal and could be accepted at any time.

From the point of view of energy balance, it is considered legitimate to relate the energy input only to the coal employed as supplementary fuel since the lignin component of the cane is envisaged as being recycled for steam generation and lignin can be photosynthesized on a continuing basis and has no other known industrial use of significance than for combustion. In this case the net thermal gain overall would be close to 64%.

If distillery slops are not recycled and commercial mineral fertilizers are used, the energy component would be much less than that involved in evaporating slops. The total usage of fertilizer in Queensland averages Synthetic

10 kg/Te cane or between 60 and 100 g per litre of ethanol.

nitrogenous fertilizer is particularly energy consuming for its production but would be used at a rate of not more than 20 g/1 ethanol. A total energy

component of 1% would be the order of magnitude involved compared to nearer 30% for evaporating distillery slops or 3% for recycling dilute distillery slops. All of the 3% and perhaps more would be required just to dispose of

distillery slops as acceptable process plant effluent.

An acceptable compromise might be to evaporate only half of the contemplated amount of water. This would still leave sufficient to

recirculate and virtually halve the volume to be recycled, although it would still be very dilute. An energy saving of the order of 15% could

be useful provided the cost of application was acceptable.

ESTIMATES OF FUTURE QUEENSLAND ADD AUSTRALIAN REQUIREMENTS At present Queensland uses approximately 15% of total Australian petrol consumption or around 2.1 Gl/year. Attempting to predict likely usage in The rate of growth is The

the year 2000 is fraught with numerous difficulties.

likely to be small - possibly to average not more than 1% yearly.

ownership of cars is already high at a little more than one for every 3 persons. If 30% of the petrol consumed is used by cars and station wagons

this would represent 2400 1 for each vehicle in a year or sufficient for about 16,500 km of travelling being an average distance of 4 5 km/day.

If we combine the parameters pf population, ownership of vehicles and their usage a figure of 4(1)% annual rate of increase could be envisaged. This would predict a consumption of 5(1)G1 in the year 2000

or 2.4 (0.5) "times the present consumption.

A consumption of this order would require between 2 50,000 and one million hectares gross assignment of land depending upon which of the productivity options is selected and achievement realised.

To predict the likely Australian requirements in the year 2000 is correspondingly difficult but using similar factors to those employed above, it could be expected to reach a total of 33(5) Gl. This would require a

minimum gross assignment of land of 1.65 million hectares (16,500 km ) or 4.7 Q.S.I, units. A contribution from West Australia and Northern

Territory could be expected to have been developed by that date.

217 The view is expressed that the rate of increase of consumption of I.C. engine liquid fuel will taper as alternatives become more highly developed. The electric car may well be sufficiently developed by the

year 2000 to have a significant effect on the extent of use of I.C. motivation. Commuter services may or may not have an effect of a similar

order of magnitude - past history in Australia tends to a less than optimistic view. The relative costs of fuels will determine much of the

economics and higher standards of living will generally be prepared to pay more for convenience of transport. Marginal increases in the price of

liquid fuels are considered unlikely to diminish the rate of increase in consumption and radical improvements in commuter services are thought to be needed to have any noticeable effect on private consumption. The only

country at present achieving this objective to a significant degree is China where private ownership of vehicles is restricted by proclamation, a means which would be considered socially unacceptable in the Australian community even if economically desirable or necessary.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

Advisory Council of Science and Industry, Australia, Bull No. 6 (1913) and reprint with appendix, Bull No. 20 (1921) Morner-Willlams, G.N.: Power Alcohol - its production and utilization. Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1922 Underkofler, Leland A. and Hickey, Richard J.: Industrial Fermentation" Chemical Pub. Co. Inc. New York, Vol. I 1954 G.H. Jenkins. "Introduction to Cane Sugar Technology" Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1966 Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Queensland. Manual for Queensland Sugar Mills 5th Ed. 1970 Laboratory

George P. Meade: "Cane Sugar Handbook" John Wiley and Sons Inc. New York. 9th Ed. 1964. Hugot, Emll: "Handbook of Cane Sugar Engineering'1 Amsterdam 2nd Ed. (English) 1972 Spiers, E.M.: "Technical World Power Conference Elsevier,

Data on Fuel" British National Committee

Perry , Robert H. and Chilton, Cecil H.: Chemical Engineers' Handbook" McGraw-Hill, Kogakusha. 5th Ed. 1973 Shreve, R. Norris: "Chemical Process Industries" McGraw-Hill, Kogakusha. 3rd Ed 1967 Groggins, P.H.: "Unit Processes in Organic Syntheses" McGraw-Hill, Kogakusha. 5th Ed. 1958 King, Norman J., Mungomery K..W. and Hughes, C.G.: Cane Growing'"' Elsevier, New York 1965 '-Manual of

International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists System of Cane Sugar Factory Control. 3rd Ed. 1971 Paturau, J.n. "By-Products of the Cane Sugar Industry Elsevier, Amsterdam 1963 The Australian Sugar Yearbook Strand Publishing Co., Brisbane. An annual production since 1941 Kelly, F.H.C.: "The Ultimate Analysis of Bagasse" Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations Queensland. Tech. Comra. No. 10 1937 Proceedings of the Queensland Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 1930 Proceedings of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 1924 especially useful are proceedings of XVth Congress, Durban, S.A. 1974 Bonner, James and Galston, Arthur W. : "Principles of Plant Physiology::" W.H. Freeman & Co., San Francisco 1952


219 20. Peck., U . K . "Sol,tr E n e r g y U t i l i z a t i o n " Tech,. P a p e r s X V I I I , N o . 1, F e b . 1977 C o m m o n w e a l t h and Queensland Year Books b y sugar c a n e l e a v e s " Inst. E n g . A u s t . Qld.

21. 22.

H a t c h M . D . and Stack C.R.; " P h o t o s y n t h e s i s B i c c h e m . J. 1 9 6 6 , ( 1 0 1 : 1 0 3 ) Richcigl, M. ( J n ) : C l e v e l a n d O h i o 197 3


" M a n , Food a n d Nutrition 5 '

C.R.C. Press


G a r t s i d e , G., R e g a n , D.L. ar.d N e i s s D.E.: Photosynthetic Production of Liquid Fuels from Plants I n t e r n . S o l a r E n e r g y S o c i e t y Conf. U n i . N . S . W . 26th A u g u s t 1 9 7 7 . A s s o c i a t e d O c t e l C o . L t d . "A R e v i e w of G a s o l i n e Q u a l i t y : and New Z e a l a n d " A p r i l / M a y , 1 9 7 4 : September 1974. Australia



Brazil Secretaria de Tecnologia Industrial. :Etanol: Combustivel !lateria-Prima" (in P o r t u g e s e ) Mi.nisterio da I n d u s t r i a 6 do C o m e r c i o Dec. 1976. Cellulose Conference Proceedings 1974 C e l l u l o s e as a C h e m i c a l a n d Energy Resource" No. 53 Enzymatic Conversion of Cellulosic Material 5 - M o . 6. E d i t o r C.R. VTilke. Interscience. John H i l e y New Y o r k , 197 5 H a n k s , P.A.: Conference A u s t r a l i a n I n s t i t u t e o f Petroleum., &th J u l y 1977 Q u e e n s l a n d Branch




B u r d e k i n P r o j e c t C o m m i t t e e ( C o m m o n w e a l t h / S t a t e ) " R e s o u r c e s and Fotentiai of the Burdekin River Basin Queensland" Aust. Govt. Publishing Servicej Canberra J u n e 1977 Prince, R.G.H. 'Biological E n e r g y Conversion 1 : Bulletin 1 9 7 7 , p.13 D u n n i n g , J.w. a n d L a n t h r o p E.G.: Ind. Eng. Chem. 1943, 37, 24 Current Affairs



" I n d u s t r i a l Fermentation''


; S a d d l e r , H . D . W . , M c C a n n D.J. a n d P i t m a n H . G . : A n A s s e s s m e n t for C r o p P r o d u c t i o n for E n e r g y i n A u s t r a l i a 1 A u s t r a l i a n Forestry 1 9 7 6 , 39_, (No. 1 ) , 5


M c C a n n , D.J. and S a d d l e r , H.D.VJ.: A u s t r a l ia ;; Search, 1 9 7 5 , 7, 17

" P h o t o b i o l o g i c a l C o n v e r s i o n in


M c C a n n , D.J. S a d d l e r H.D.W. a n d P r i n c e , R . G . H . "The E f f i c i e n t P r o c e s s i n g o f P h o t o b i o l o g i c a l M a t e r i a l " The I n s t i t u t i o n o f E n g i n e e r s , Australia Technical Conference 1976 "Alcohol a Brazilian Answer to the Energy S c i e n c e 1 9 7 7 , 1_95_, 5 6 4 Crisis" Research News.



Producer's Review (Australian Cane Growers' Official Journal) S t r a n d P u b l i s h i n g P t y . Ltd. B r i s b a n e , A m o n t h l y p u b l i c a t i o n . Power F a m i n g Magazine published by Pacific Publications (Aust.) P t y . L t d . 29 A l b e r t o n S t r e e t , Sydney 1 9 7 4 is v o l . 83 in a n n u a l u n i t s . Useful from 1965 v o l . 7 4 .