Date: June 13, 2013

Life Cycle Associates, LLC successfully registered NSEL’s sugarcane molasses-to-ethanol pathway under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The California Air Resources Board posted the NSEL pathway to the LCFS website yesterday. 

Life Cycle Associates developed the sugarcane molasses to ethanol pathway for Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited (NSEL) based on the California LCFS Method 2B process. As part of the project, Life Cycle Associates completed a life cycle analysis of NSEL’s fuel life cycle and determined the carbon intensity for the pathway. The carbon intensity of NSEL’s sugarcane ethanol was calculated by considering all the incremental emissions that occur from farming through the production of ethanol. Land use change emissions were also included. Life Cycle Associates followed the LCFS procedure and coordinated the registration process with the California Air Resources Board. With approval of its molasses-to-ethanol pathway, NSEL can now sell fuel in California.

The NSEL pathway was developed with the CA-GREET model using an external calculation. Life-cycle inventory (LCI) data and transport emissions were calculated in the CA-GREET spreadsheet. The CA-GREET model is a California-specific version of Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET life cycle model, modified by Life Cycle Associates and ARB staff.

The feedstock for the ethanol produced under the NSEL pathway is a co-product of the sugar industry. To produce sugar, sugarcane is pressed to extract the sugarcane juice. The juice is refined into raw sugar. A by-product of the sugar production process is molasses, which is shipped to a distillery where it is fermented and distilled to produce ethanol. Molasses is a low-value byproduct that is used as a livestock feed supplement and cannot be upgraded to a food-grade product, which makes it a great feedstock for alternative fuel production.