Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

Sweet sorghum better ethanol source

Sweet sorghum, a cane-like plant with a high sugar content grown primarily for forage, silage and sugar production, could become the next big alternative fuel crop.

Steve Moore, a Louisiana State University AgCenter plant pathologist, is interested in planting the crop in the AgCenter's research fields in Alexandria.
"I think we can do a bang-up job in producing it," Moore said. "With the amount of sugar it can produce, it could be an attractive crop – even more so than corn."

Better than corn
Corn production has doubled in Louisiana since this past year, from 120,000 ha to 240,000 ha, mostly because of demand for ethanol.
Lee McClune, president of the Iowa-based Sorganol Production Co., has presented research to the AgCenter from Iowa State University that shows sweet sorghum can produce more than six times the ethanol, about 3,037 gallons per acre (28,400 l/ha), than the 450 gallons per acre (4,200 l/ha) produced from corn.

Growing conditions
Louisiana's sub-tropical climate, McClune said, also is ideal for growing sweet sorghum. He said it can be grown in Louisiana nine to 10 months during the year, compared with four to five months in midwestern states such as Iowa. Sweet sorghum also can be grown and turned into ethanol a lot cheaper than corn, returning about $1,000 more per acre (app. $2,500/ha) than corn.
AgCenter engineers, however, are waiting to see if the technology McClune is touting lives up to expectations.

Related folder:
Dossier AllAbout Bio Energy

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