Sweet Sorghum Leading Southern Bioenergy Crop

A lot of research has gone into studying sweet sorghum’s potential as a bioenergy crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found that there are several attributes of the feedstock that make it uniquely suited to produce biofuels. One assest is its lower need for water, making it an ideal crop to grow in drought prevalent areas. In addition, it has low nitrogen fertilizer requirements and high biomass content. This according to molecular biologist Scott Sattler and Jeff Pedersen with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Sweet sorghum produces sugar that can be converted to biofuel. The fibers in the feedstock left over after the juice is extracted can be burned to create electricity. Sorghum and sugarcane are good crops for the southeastern part of the U.S. because they are complementary crops and can extend the biofuel production season. Both feedstocks also use the same equipment so a grower would not need to invest in new technology to plant or harvest either crop.

The sweet sorghum research is part of USDA’s work in studying biofuel crops to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. Of this total, 21 billion gallons will come from sources other than grain-based ethanol, of which sweet sorghum is one possible feedstock.

Other teams are also studying sweet sorghum including a group led by geneticist William Anderson with the ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit in Tifton, Georgia. This team is working on identifying desirable bioenergy genes and working on improving them. To date, the team has studied 117 genotypes from the ARS sorghum germplasm collection with more research underway.

0 thoughts on “Sweet Sorghum Leading Southern Bioenergy Crop

  1. I am pleased to write this commet to you, I look forward to assist me in getting a scholarship to study PhD under your supervision in crops improvement sweet sorghum breeding, I work a researcher assistant in breeding Sorghum and maze in Agriculture Research Center in Egypt. I waiting for reply .
    Yours sincerely

    Yousef Mohamed Yousef
    Researcher assistant
    Agriculture Research Center, Giza, Egypt.
    mobile ; +2 01006424694

  2. Good morning. Good to see the USDA agrees with what KTC Tilby LTD. has been promoting for the past few years. The purpose for my writing to you is to expand on one point made in your writeup. You mention “The fibers in the feedstock left over after the juice is extracted can be burned to create electricity”. While this is true, it is by no means the best use. Burning the fibers is about all that can be done once the fibers have been destroyed by conventional fiberizing and crushing systems to extract the juice. Our technology mechanically and efficiently separates the outer rind fiber from the pithy inner core fibers that contain the high purity juice. In doing so we can easily extract the high purity juice from the pith and retain the pith fibre for value-added co-products. We then remove mechanically the epidermal layer of the hard outer structural rind for further processing into wax and bio-active compounds. The structural rind fiber is also intact and may be utilized for making a wide range of composite board products. In other words we waste nothing. Our web-site provides much more detail than what I have jotted down here. There are also a few short videos.


    Regards, Rick

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