Bio Fuels Revolution – Sweet Sorghum – The Smart Crop
Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is frequently called as smart crop for its ability of not only produce food but fuel as well.
Sweet sorghum could become leading bioethanol feedstocks. Unlikely sugarcane which requires a year to grow and large amounts of irrigation water, Sweet sorghum only needs 90-120 days of total culture time e 1/3 of sugar cane water. Corn also requires a fair amount of water. Sweet sorghum is similar to grain sorghum but with sugar-rich stalks and the ability to use water efficiently.
The main advantages of producing ethanol from sweet soghum juice are:
High Yield – Sweet sorghum yields between 500 to 800 gallons of ethanol per acre (4700 to 7500 liters per hectare);
Water Efficient Crop – Sweet sorghum requires one-half of the water required to grow corn and one third of the water required to grow sugarcane;
Ability to Grow in Marginal Soil – Sweet sorghum can grow in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand. Sweet sorghum has been called a “camel among crops,” owing to its wide adaptability, its marked resistance to drought and saline-alkaline soils, and tolerance to high temperature and waterlogging;
Not Harmful to the Environment – Sweet sorghum requires the use of only 40 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre whereas corn growers use more than 150 pounds per acre, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Less fertilizer reduces the risk of water contamination. Producing ethanol from sweet sorghum, rather than increasing corn-to-ethanol production, reduces the risk of the continued formation of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico
Rapid Growth – Sweet sorghum takes only 4 months to reach maturity, which is short enough to allow harvesting twice a year. Sugarcane requires 14 months to reach maturity; and
Energy Efficient – The energy requirement for converting sweet sorghum juice into ethanol is less than half of that required to convert corn into ethanol. This is due to the fact that the sugars in sweet sorghum juice are fermented directly. There is no need to excessively heat the juice to breakdown starch into sugars as required for corn