Latest potent biofuel made from Sweet sorghum sap
Ethanol made from the stalk's juice has four times the energy yield of the corn-based ethanol, which is already in the marketplace unlike sweet sorghum. Sweet sorghum produces about eight units of energy for every unit of energy used in its production. That's about the same as sugarcane but four times as much as corn.
Sweet sorghum growers in South Texas and South Florida can get two crops a year because of their tropic-like weather. The crop, though, can be grown as far north as Canada. It grows in dry conditions and tolerates heat well.
In Texas and Florida, the second crop doesn't need to be planted; it sprouts from the first harvest. "We've found the contents are as good as the first crop," Coniglio said.
Sweet sorghum also spares the environment. Less fertilizer is needed than with corn and as a result there is less water contamination, Coniglio said.
"I think it will add more ethanol to the market," said Morris Bitzer, the executive secretary of the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association, which has 500 members in 38 states.
The crop has caught the attention of the U.S. Agriculture Department, which along with Texas A&M University is sponsoring a conference on its use as a biofuel in Houston in August.
"I'm excited that they recognize that there are more feedstocks than just corn and switchgrass," Oklahoma State's Bellmer said.