Bagasse (bah-gas) is the dry pulp residue left over after the juice has been extracted from the sugarcane stalk. In Louisiana’s 11 sugar mills, the biggest use for bagasse is to burn it in the mill as a green fuel.
Mills use very little fossil fuel inside the factory. When all the juice gets extracted out of the pulp, the majority of the bagasse ends up going to the boilers. The boilers create steam, which powers moving equipment and electricity generators. The mills are in essence biorefineries and grow their own energy.
Much of the bagasse is burned but there is a lot leftover and mills have to store the excess. Although the bagasse can be made into many products (fuel pellets, paper, plywood, etc.) cost efficiency is always a major issue. Currently, in 2023, there are several research projects that aim to create other uses for this organic by-product. Until then, the bulldozers will keep piling bagasse. (Video by Al Maclean)