2009 Awards

Optimizing Cultivation and Conversion Parameters for Efficient Sweet Sorghum Bioethanol - N.C. State University

Funding recipient:  North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Award amount:  $183,468

This project has established that sweet sorghum is one of the highest yielding sources of biomass in North Carolina on an annual basis.  Utilizing relatively low crop inputs, such as fertilizer, water, and herbicides, sweet sorghum is capable of producing over 15 bone dry tons of biomass per acre.  This crop offers the flexibility of providing ethanol processors with a directly fermentable sugar that is extracted from the sorghum juice as well as a tremendous source of cellulosic material.  Data indicates that sweet sorghum can out-yield switchgrass on an annual basis while giving North Carolina crop producers the flexibility to modify their cropping systems on an annual basis.

The research team has also made strides towards lowering the production costs of sweet sorghum.  Traditionally, this crop was harvested by hand using knives or axes.  The North Carolina State University sorghum research team has developed an in-field juice expression and biomass ensiling system that will dramatically reduce production costs and allow the production of sweet sorghum for bioethanol to look more attractive to ethanol refining companies.


Sweet Sorghum, approximately 8 feet tall, Oxford, NC, September 2009


North Carolina counties benefiting from this project: Duplin, Granville, Johnston, and Wake

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