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Sugarcane has been a source of many chemicals in Brazil since the early 1940s. The increase in sugarcane production associated with the growing global demand for food (sucrose) and fuel (ethanol) has, since the early 1970s, led to a steady decrease in production costs and transformed sugarcane into an environmentally benign and economically competitive alternative to oil. Sugarcane is already a competitive feedstock for the production of a host of chemicals, including thermoplastics, solvents, surfactants, esters, ethers, carboxylic acids, amino acids, polyelectrolytes, gums and cellulose. Recent work, especially in Brazil, has produced a large number of new possibilities and many companies are implementing these. This chapter describes many examples of current products derived from sugarcane and also discusses possible future developments in this area.

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