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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Ethanol from Sugar Crops

Authors
item Eggleston, Gillian
item Tew, Thomas
item Panella, Leonard
item Klasson, K Thomas

Submitted to: CABI(Council of Applied Biology International, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 10, 2009
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
Citation: Eggleston, G., Tew, T., Panella, L., Klasson, T. 2010. Ethanol from Sugar Crops. In: Singh, B.P., editor. Industrial Crops and Uses. Wallingford, United Kingdom:CABI (Council of Applied Biology International). Chapter 3, p. 60-83.

Interpretive Summary: The world-wide impetus to produce alternatives to petroleum-based fuels and relatively low profit for sugar are putting pressure on the sugar industry to diversify for sustainability. Sugar crops, mainly sugarcane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum, fit well into the emerging concept of a renewable carbohydrate feedstock because of their availability, and they are amongst the plants giving the highest yields of carbohydrates per hectare. Processes to convert energy sugarcanes and high fiber content sugar beets into fuel ethanol are under intense investigation. For fuel ethanol to succeed, it will need to compete effectively with alternative energy sources and be produced in a sustainable, environmentally acceptable manner.

Technical Abstract: The world-wide impetus to produce alternatives to petroleum-based fuels and relatively low profit for sugar are putting pressure on the sugar industry to diversify for sustainability. Sugar crops, mainly sugarcane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum, fit well into the emerging concept of a renewable carbohydrate feedstock because of their availability, and they are amongst the plants giving the highest yields of carbohydrates per hectare. As of January 2009, approximately 50% of the world’s fuel ethanol production was from sugar crops. Companies and government agencies in several countries are currently sponsoring research into the development of energy sugarcanes and sugar beets. Processes to convert energy sugarcanes and high fiber content sugar beets (as well as traditional and cellulosic by-products of sugarcane and sugar beet) into fuel ethanol are also under intense investigation. The future use of sugar crops for energy will depend on the demand for energy and the ability of these crops to be a competitive resource within the national and international policy environments. An efficient low-cost sugar crop feedstock needs to have the following characteristics: high in sugar content, high yielding, remunerative for growers, and have low cultivation costs. As energy crops, sugarcane (Saccharum spp), sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) and sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) can be converted to liquid fuel (ethanol), heat, and electricity. However, for fuel ethanol to succeed, it will need to compete effectively with alternative energy sources and be produced in a sustainable, environmentally acceptable manner. Commercialization of fuel ethanol will depend mostly on economic factors, such as government subsidies.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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