Home » Turning sweet sorghum to ethanol in Hopkinsville

Turning sweet sorghum to ethanol in Hopkinsville

MURRAY, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2012) — Delta BioRenewables LLC, a sustainable feedstock producer and bioenergy project developer, has with its collaboration partner, Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC, successfully produced ethanol from sweet sorghum sugar at its corn ethanol facility in Hopkinsville, Ky.

The industrial-scale evaluation, which utilized fermentable sugars from improved sweet sorghum hybrids developed by Ceres Inc. marks the first step in demonstrating the commercial viability of integrating the new feedstock into existing domestic corn ethanol facilities.

Sweet sorghum is on the pathway for acceptance as an advanced biofuel feedstock under the Renewable Fuel Standard, thus providing an additional financial incentive for corn ethanol facilities to adopt the crop.

Sweet sorghum is a drought-tolerant, low-input crop, well adapted to most regions of the United States. It serves as a companion crop to corn and soybeans in an annual crop rotation system.

For the coming season, energy crop company Ceres, Inc. is working with Delta BioRenewables and Commonwealth (which has 2,300 farmer members) to expand plantings of its improved sweet sorghum marketed under its Durasweet trade name.

The project was funded in part by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), a farmer-funded organization that invests in the research, marketing and outreach to expand markets for sorghum.

Strategic planning support for the project was made possible through the partnership of Murray State University, West Kentucky AgBioworks, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Kentucky Agriculture Development Fund, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, and USDA Rural Development.

The Regional Business and Innovation Center’s West Kentucky AgBioworks initiative served as an early catalyst to develop cooperation between Memphis BioDimensions and Commonwealth Agri-Energy in the Sorghum to Ethanol project, according to RBIC director, Loretta Daniel.

Sweet sorghum has been one of the several foundational new crop opportunities researched on the MSU Hutson School of Agriculture’s Hutson Farm and on several individual farms throughout the region through the WKABW Farmer Network.

Murray State has conducted, or is in the process of conducting, preliminary research on using the sorghum bagasse (remains after squeezing the sugar juice out) as a potential equine bedding material in its equine operation and as a biomass incineration fuel source at its Garret Center Bioburner application.

For more information on the project, contact Daniel at [email protected] or call at (270) 809-6071.