Sweetfuel General information
Originating from Africa, today sweet sorghum is cultivated in semi-arid to humid climates in several African countries, India, Southeast Asia, the USA and Europe.
Sweet sorghum is considered one of the most efficient crops to convert atmospheric CO2 into sugar with large advantages compared to sugarcane production in some areas of the tropics, making it a promising crop for bioenergy while meeting food and fodder needs.
Sweet sorghum is a C4 plant with the following promising characteristics:
These characteristics make sorghum relatively cheap to grow with high yields. It can be used to produce a wide range of products, such as ethanol, feed, food, sugar, pulp and fertilizer.
The following application options exist for different sweet sorghum crop parts:
Production of ethanol from sweet sorghum is considerably easier than from other crops. In order to produce ethanol, sorghum stalks are crushed yielding sweet juice that is distilled and transformed into ethanol, a clean burning biofuel with high octane rating.
The grain is not used for ethanol production and is therefore available for food production, mainly for flat bread and porridge.
The crushed stalks (bagasse) are used as animal fodder.
Thus, ethanol production from sweet sorghum does not compromise food production. Furthermore, sweet sorghum also performs well with respect to energy balance. Sweet sorghum generates 8 units of energy for every unit of energy invested in cultivation and production, compared with 8.3 units for sugarcane and 1.8 units for corn based ethanol production.
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