Energy recovery

Energy recovery is a waste treatment process that generates energy in the form of electricity, heat or fuel. Energy recovery is a preferable waste handling process than sending to landfill. However, it should be considered as one of the last options at the end of life, after reuse, refurbishing and recycling.

There are three types of energy recovery technologies:

  1. Thermo-chemical: conversion process which extracts energy from waste through high temperatures. Types of thermo-chemical energy recovery include combustion (waste to energy), gasification, pyrolysis and liquefaction.
  2. Chemical: conversion process which extracts energy through esterification, the creation of ester due to a reaction between alcohol and an acid
  3. Bio-chemical: conversion process which extracts energy using bio-decomposition of waste. Types of bio-chemical energy recovery include biogas from anaerobic digestion or landfill, bio-hydrogen and bio-ethanol from fermentation and microbial fuel cells.

Energy recovery may also be the capture and reuse of released heat from air and water systems. Buildings or infrastructure projects may recovery the heat from used air or water for pre-heating other buildings systems, saving energy and emissions.



Ethanol from sugar byproducts


  • Copersucar S.A. is Brazil’s largest trader and exporter of sugar and ethanol, bringing together field and industry with integrated logistics throughout its entire business chain. They are focused on operating excellence, and sustainable value creation.
  • The sugarcane industry effectively uses its byproducts - with over 150 alternative uses by some estimates.
  • Byproduct reuse includes using cane tops in animal feed, filter muds and vinasse for amending fertilizers and molasses for ethanol production.


  • Global crude oil prices determine the success of ethanol business.
  • Unreliable climate conditions on an annual basis determine crop yield, and ultimately, sugar and ethanol production.


  • Copersucar and its partners aim to optimize value created from sugar crops and its byproducts.
  • Copersucar’s partner mills reuse 100% of their byproducts, generating enough electricity for self-sufficiency during the harvest season.
  • Copersucar invested a 100% equity stake in Eco-Energy Global Biofuels LLC.

Key benefits

  • Through the acquisition of Eco-Energy, Copersucar became the largest global platform for biofuels.
  • In the 2015-2016 Crop-Year, the two companies marketed 13.5 billion liters of ethanol, equivalent to 11.5% of the entire global supply.
  • Copersucar traded over 5 billion liters, of which 0.6 billion were exported.
  • Eco-Energy handled 8.5 billion liters and has 16% of US market share.