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Title: Sorghum to Ethanol Research

Abstract

The development of a robust source of renewable transportation fuel will require a large amount of biomass feedstocks. It is generally accepted that in addition to agricultural and forestry residues, we will need crops grown specifically for subsequent conversion into fuels. There has been a lot of research on several of these so-called "dedicated bioenergy crops" including switchgrass, miscanthus, sugarcane, and poplar. It is likely that all of these crops will end up playing a role as feedstocks, depending on local environmental and market conditions. Many different types of sorghum have been grown to produce syrup, grain, and animal feed for many years. It has several features that may make it as compelling as other crops mentioned above as a renewable, sustainable biomass feedstock; however, very little work has been done to investigate sorghum as a dedicated bioenergy crop. The goal of this project was to investigate the feasibility of using sorghum biomass to produce ethanol. The work performed included a detailed examination of the agronomics and composition of a large number of sorghum varieties, laboratory experiments to convert sorghum to ethanol, and economic and life-cycle analyses of the sorghum-to-ethanol process. This work showed that sorghum has a very widemore » range of composition, which depended on the specific sorghum cultivar as well as the growing conditions. The results of laboratory- and pilot-scale experiments indicated that a typical high-biomass sorghum variety performed very similarly to corn stover during the multi-step process required to convert biomass feedstocks to ethanol; yields of ethanol for sorghum were very similar to the corn stover used as a control in these experiments. Based on multi-year agronomic data and theoretical ethanol production, sorghum can achieve more than 1,300 gallons of ethanol per acre given the correct genetics and environment. In summary, sorghum may be a compelling dedicated bioenergy crop that could help provide a major portion of the feedstocks required to produce renewable domestic transportation fuels.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. Univ. of California, Parlier, CA (United States). Kearney Research and Extension Center
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States). Process and Analytical Engineering Group
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Sorghum Producers Association, Lubbock, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1053823
Report Number(s):
DOE-NSP-88029
DOE Contract Number:
FG36-08GO88029
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; sorghum; biomass; feedstock; composition; ethanol; bioenergy; cellulose; hemicellulose; glucan; xylan

Citation Formats

Dahlberg, Jeffrey A., and Wolfrum, Edward J. Sorghum to Ethanol Research. United States: N. p., 2010. Web. doi:10.2172/1053823.
Dahlberg, Jeffrey A., & Wolfrum, Edward J. Sorghum to Ethanol Research. United States. doi:10.2172/1053823.
Dahlberg, Jeffrey A., and Wolfrum, Edward J. 2010. "Sorghum to Ethanol Research". United States. doi:10.2172/1053823. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1053823.
@article{osti_1053823,
title = {Sorghum to Ethanol Research},
author = {Dahlberg, Jeffrey A. and Wolfrum, Edward J.},
abstractNote = {The development of a robust source of renewable transportation fuel will require a large amount of biomass feedstocks. It is generally accepted that in addition to agricultural and forestry residues, we will need crops grown specifically for subsequent conversion into fuels. There has been a lot of research on several of these so-called "dedicated bioenergy crops" including switchgrass, miscanthus, sugarcane, and poplar. It is likely that all of these crops will end up playing a role as feedstocks, depending on local environmental and market conditions. Many different types of sorghum have been grown to produce syrup, grain, and animal feed for many years. It has several features that may make it as compelling as other crops mentioned above as a renewable, sustainable biomass feedstock; however, very little work has been done to investigate sorghum as a dedicated bioenergy crop. The goal of this project was to investigate the feasibility of using sorghum biomass to produce ethanol. The work performed included a detailed examination of the agronomics and composition of a large number of sorghum varieties, laboratory experiments to convert sorghum to ethanol, and economic and life-cycle analyses of the sorghum-to-ethanol process. This work showed that sorghum has a very wide range of composition, which depended on the specific sorghum cultivar as well as the growing conditions. The results of laboratory- and pilot-scale experiments indicated that a typical high-biomass sorghum variety performed very similarly to corn stover during the multi-step process required to convert biomass feedstocks to ethanol; yields of ethanol for sorghum were very similar to the corn stover used as a control in these experiments. Based on multi-year agronomic data and theoretical ethanol production, sorghum can achieve more than 1,300 gallons of ethanol per acre given the correct genetics and environment. In summary, sorghum may be a compelling dedicated bioenergy crop that could help provide a major portion of the feedstocks required to produce renewable domestic transportation fuels.},
doi = {10.2172/1053823},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2010,
month = 9
}

Technical Report:

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  • The goal of this project was to investigate the feasibility of using sorghum to produce ethanol. The work performed included a detailed examination of the agronomics and composition of a large number of sorghum varieties, laboratory experiments to convert sorghum to ethanol, and economic and life-cycle analyses of the sorghum-to-ethanol process. This work showed that sorghum has a very wide range of composition, which depended on the specific sorghum cultivar as well as the growing conditions. The results of laboratory- and pilot-scale experiments indicated that a typical high-biomass sorghum variety performed very similarly to corn stover during the multi-step processmore » required to convert biomass feedstocks to ethanol; yields of ethanol for sorghum were very similar to the corn stover used as a control in these experiments. Based on multi-year agronomic data and theoretical ethanol production, sorghum can achieve more than 1,300 gallons of ethanol per acre given the correct genetics and environment. In summary, sorghum may be a compelling dedicated bioenergy crop that could help provide a portion of the feedstocks required to produce renewable domestic transportation fuels.« less
  • The development of a robust source of renewable transportation fuel will require a large amount of biomass feedstocks. It is generally accepted that in addition to agricultural and forestry residues, we will need crops grown specifically for subsequent conversion into fuels. There has been a lot of research on several of these so-called "dedicated bioenergy crops" including switchgrass, miscanthus, sugarcane, and poplar. It is likely that all of these crops will end up playing a role as feedstocks, depending on local environmental and market conditions. Many different types of sorghum have been grown to produce syrup, grain, and animal feedmore » for many years. It has several features that may make it as compelling as other crops mentioned above as a renewable, sustainable biomass feedstock; however, very little work has been done to investigate sorghum as a dedicated bioenergy crop. The goal of this project was to investigate the feasibility of using sorghum biomass to produce ethanol. The work performed included a detailed examination of the agronomics and composition of a large number of sorghum varieties, laboratory experiments to convert sorghum to ethanol, and economic and life-cycle analyses of the sorghum-to-ethanol process. This work showed that sorghum has a very wide range of composition, which depended on the specific sorghum cultivar as well as the growing conditions. The results of laboratory- and pilot-scale experiments indicated that a typical high-biomass sorghum variety performed very similarly to corn stover during the multi-step process required to convert biomass feedstocks to ethanol; yields of ethanol for sorghum were very similar to the corn stover used as a control in these experiments. Based on multi-year agronomic data and theoretical ethanol production, sorghum can achieve more than 1,300 gallons of ethanol per acre given the correct genetics and environment. In summary, sorghum may be a compelling dedicated bioenergy crop that could help provide a major portion of the feedstocks required to produce renewable domestic transportation fuels.« less
  • The following are discussed: economic and agronomic implications of commercial growers' sweet sorghum field tests, economics of sweet sorghum production, marketing and market organization concepts, and the effect of water availability upon potential increased production of sugar crops in Southern Florida and the Texas Rio Grande Valley. (MHR)
  • An interregional experimental agricultural task was undertaken to evaluate biomass and sugar yields of sweet sorghum using similar cultural practices. Climatic conditions varied from North Dakota to southern Texas and Florida having respective frost-free days of 121 and 300. Maximum yields obtained in 1978 and 1979 at the various experimental locations ranged from 12.0 to 40.5 t/ha for dry biomass and from 2.9 to 13.2 t/ha for total sugars. Assuming 582 1 of ethanol can be produced per metric ton of sugars, equivalent ethanol yields range from 1688 to 7682 1/ha. In addition to sweet sorghum, new sorghum hybrids, male-sterilemore » corn, and sugarcane were investigated as potential sugar-stalk crops for producing ethanol from fermentation.« less
  • Ethanol is an important commodity chemical that has a number of industrial and commercial uses. One of the potential applications is as fuel blend for automobiles. Based on the desire for better air quality, the president of the United States has recently initiated a drive for using ethanol as a fuel additive for automobiles in the 1990's. The purpose of the study was to advance pervaporation technology to permit energy-efficient separation of ethanol/water mixtures. One polymer, polytrimethyl 1-propyne (PTMSP), exhibited the highest selectivity (14.1) with intermediate ethanol permeation flux (V(sub w) = 0.184 kg/sq m h) compared with the manymore » different apolar polymer materials that were cast and tested for their ability to separate ethanol and water using the pervaporation process. Another polymer, polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF), exhibited reverse behavior with an intermediate selectivity (3.5) and a high flux (V(sub w) = 1.135 kg/sq m h). An unusual membrane with a high selectivity (12.5) and flux (0.425 kg/sq m h) was obtained by combining these two polymers into a composite membrane, PTMSP-PVDF. An economic analysis of a dual pervaporation plant gave a final operating cost of $0.45/gal of 99.9 percent ethanol using the performance of the PTMSP-PVDF membrane.« less