Brazil ethanol producers turn to sorghum as alternative feedstock

10 September 2012 22:02  [Source: ICIS news]

MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--More ethanol producers in Brazil’s centre-south region are turning to sweet sorghum as an alternative feedstock during the sugarcane inter-crop season, industry association Unica said on Monday.

“The cultivation of sweet sorghum is becoming an increasingly feasible alternative for companies interested in extending the harvest period,” Unica said.

“This will help to reduce pressure on domestic ethanol supplies from November to April,” the association added.

Unica highlighted the case of the Boa Vista joint venture (jv) between ethanol producer Sao Martinho and Petrobras.

“The company planted 270 hectares of sweet sorghum in 2011,” the association said. “It aims to increase this amount to 600 hectares in 2012.”

The trade group said the advantages of sweet sorghum as an alternative feedstock for ethanol production were still being analysed.

Unica estimated that one hectare of sweet sorghum can yield 2,500 litres of ethanol. The same area of sugarcane can produce 6,000 litres of ethanol.

However, the same resources can be used for both sugarcane and sweet sorghum production, thus keeping additional costs at a minimum.

“Sugarcane equipment, such as harvesters, can be adapted and sweet sorghum can be planted without expanding agricultural borders,” Unica said.

Unica will host a seminar on the potential of sweet sorghum cultivation later this month, the association said.

By: Simon West

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