Evaluation of Sweet Sorghum and Sorghum × Sudangrass Hybrids as Feedstocks for Ethanol Production

Authors: Tew, Thomas1; Cobill, Robert2; Richard, Edward2

Source: BioEnergy Research, Volume 1, Number 2, June 2008 , pp. 147-152(6)

Publisher: Springer

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Field studies were conducted at the USDA-ARS Sugarcane Research Laboratory in southeast Louisiana to evaluate the ethanol yield potential of five sweet sorghums (Dale, M81-E, Rio, Theis, and Topper) and two non-flowering sorghum × sudangrass forage hybrids (MMR 333/27 and MMR 333/47). The sorghums were planted in the spring and harvested at 85, 101, 119, and 138 days after planting (DAP). Theoretical sugar-based ethanol yield increased for the sweet sorghums (except Rio) from 85 through 119 days, but did not significantly increase further at 138 days. The forage sorghums did not show a similar increase, though the theoretical sugar-based ethanol yield of MMR 333/47 at 138 DAP was greater than at 85 DAP. Conversely, theoretical fiber-based ethanol yields increased two-fold in the two forage sorghums from 85 to 138 DAP; a significant increase in fiber-based ethanol yield was not observed in any of the sweet sorghums over the same period. At 138 DAP, sugar-based ethanol yield of Theis (6,060 L ha−1), was greater than that of Rio or either of the two forage hybrids. Fiber-based ethanol yield of MMR 333/47 (8,860 L ha−1) was greater than that of any other variety in the test. Theoretical ethanol yield from hexose sugar and fiber components averaged across varieties was 6,500, 7,720, 9,100, and 10,810 L ha−1 at 85, 101, 119 and 138 DAP, respectively. As a complementary crop for Louisiana’s sugarcane growers, sorghum would need to be harvested not later than 120 DAP so as to not interfere with the planting of sugarcane in these fields. Both Theis and MMR 333/47 produced greater than 11,000 L ha−1 combined theoretical ethanol at 119 DAP, Theis, equally from sugar and fiber, MMR 333/47 about two-thirds from fiber. Choice of sorghum type would depend on the conversion process(s) being used at the biorefinery.

Keywords: Bioenergy; Complementary crop; Days-after-planting; Saccharum spp; Sorghum bicolor; Sugarcane

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12155-008-9013-y

Affiliations: 1: Sugarcane Research Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Service, 5883 USDA Road, Houma, LA, 70360, USA, Email: thomas.tew@ars.usda.gov 2: Sugarcane Research Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Service, 5883 USDA Road, Houma, LA, 70360, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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