Tekron, Vydexa Industrials to develop Barbados' sugar cane industry

Tekron Inc. and Vydexa Industrials Corp., of London, ON, have received a contract to prepare a feasibility study for Barbados Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSIL) and restructure the fledgling sugar cane industry in Barbados...

LONDON & ONTARIO, Canada, Aug. 23, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Tekron Inc. and Vydexa Industrials Corp., of London, ON, have received a contract to prepare a feasibility study for Barbados Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSIL) and restructure the fledgling sugar cane industry in Barbados.

The objective of the assignment is to develop an industrial base for production of fuel alcohol and other higher value products from sugar cane biomass. The project undertaking will encompass all aspects necessary for decision-making, relating to technologically sound and profitable utilization of sugar cane biomass residues that are left after conventional sugar extraction, presently practiced in Barbados.

The abundant quantities of waste biomass in Barbados, in the form of sugar cane residues, as well as other lingo-cellulosic residues warrant utilization of this national resource for production of fuel alcohol. In addition to alcohol, other emerging modern technologies are visualized that will be based either on the produced alcohol or on the raw biomass and its derivatives. Barbados has the capability of becoming self-sufficient in energy and at the same time developing a sound and profitable industrial base.

Barbados' island economy, with its strong economic base in tourism, has also been historically dominated by cane production accounting for some 3% of GDP, representing some 15% of domestic exports and employing several thousand persons. The sugar industry in Barbados owes its viability, in great measure, to the ACP/EU Convention that provides it with a guaranteed market for its sugar. However, currency risk associated with the Euro and US dollar, coupled to declining cane yields and high production costs, have threatened the industry. Therefore, alternative and additional uses of cane and its components are essential to create new higher value-added products, to diversify the economy and provide a measure of stability, self-sufficiency and vitality.

Scope of the project
The primary focus of the project undertaking is to assess a number of issues as they relate to the establishment of a biomass-to-ethanol facility, initially as a pilot plant and thereafter as a full size, commercially viable entity.

The secondary project focus shall be in evaluating and selecting modern technologies for alternative and possibly additional uses of cane and other biomass for production of higher value products.

Concerning raw biomass, various possibilities are visualized and will be evaluated, particularly in the construction and packaging industry. Furthermore, the fermentable sugar, as well as the produced alcohol, have a great potential to be utilized for a number of biotechnological and the so called alkochemical industries. An assessment of these alternatives shall also be addressed, and a techno-economic analysis will be presented. The described emerging secondary industries shall represent innovative and profitable undertakings for Barbados, in addition to fuel alcohol production.

Deliverables
Tekron's and Vydexa's project objectives are to provide detailed analysis about the feasibility of 1) producing bio-ethanol, and 2) other commodities, as added value products to traditional sugar production. In this manner, BSIL shall be in a position to make an informed decision about accepting one or more of the options proposed, to ensure long-term viability of the sugar cane industry and further growth of the island's economy.

As Barbados has total dependence on imported fuels for energy, an initial divergence of the activities of the sugar industry into fuel ethanol production would enable the island economy to diversify, provide a clean alternative fuel from domestic renewable resources, create de-centralized energy production and can form a basis for future CO2 trade-off and negotiation (Kyoto). The creation of new value-added products can emerge as a basis for a thriving new biomass-based and alkochemical industry.

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