Paper from bagasse

Researchers at the French development research institute (IRD) and the national institute for agricultural research (INRA) have developed a biological process for converting bagasse (sugarcane residue) into paper pulp. Its principle is less harmful to the environment than the traditional treatments of delignification and paper pulp bleaching; it can also be used to produce other fibres.
Part of this waste product is recycled as a raw material for paper manufacture, but the industrial processing required for delignification and bleaching of the resulting paper pulp can be damaging for the environment.
But now the scientists of the IRD and INRA have produced a new process that transforms the bagasse into pulp and produces an industrially-useful enzyme, laccase.
The process is based on the distinctive metabolism of a filamentous fungus which, when raised in culture on bagasse in the presence of ethanol, produces this enzyme.
Laccase breaks down the lignin in the cane waste, changing the latter into paper pulp. Preliminatory laboratory trials show that this integrated bioprocess can be adapted to other potential fibre-yielding materials such as wood and cereals.

  • In our next edition, we will publish information on small-scale paper and textile making from cane, pineapple and other agri-fibre byproducts.

IRD: Contact Richard Auria: Tel +33 (0)1 48 03 77 77;
fax +33 (0)1 48 03 08 29; rauria@esil.univ-mrs.fr ;
website:
www.ird.fr/us/actualites/fiches/2006/fas252.pdf