18-07: The economics of fermentable sugars from sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and energy cane (Saccharum spp.) as biofuel feedstocks

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Napoleon Ballroom C-D, 3rd fl (Sheraton New Orleans)
Donal Day and Lee Madsen, Audubon Sugar Institute, Louisiana State University, St Gabriel, LA
The expansion of domestic biofuel production capacity is limited by both the availability of feedstock and the costs associated with conversion to fermentable sugars. It has been estimated that a price for fermentable sugars within the range of 10-15 cents/lb would allow biofuels to be competitive with fossil fuels. With this benchmark in-mind, a case study was developed that concentrated on the cost of producing fermentable sugars from two biomass crops, sweet sorghum and energy cane. These crops were chosen because they contain both simple sugars and biomass-fiber and can be harvested, transported and processed using infrastructure which is in-place and mature in Louisiana (cane-sugar industry). Measurement of  the sum of fermentable sugars that can be produced from expressed juice and the lignocellulosic component (via alkaline pretreatment and enzyme hydrolysis) suggested that pound-for-pound, fermentable sugars suitable for biofuel production can be produced from these crops at a cost approximating the value of fermentable sugars in blackstrap cane-molasses, currently about $0.125/pound.
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