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posted by Fnord666 on Friday December 15 2017, @07:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-smelling-exhaust dept.

Feed your cattle, fuel your Mustang:

Sweet sorghum is not just for breakfast anymore. Although sorghum is a source for table syrup, scientists see a future in which we convert sorghum to biofuel, rather than relying on fossil fuel. That potential just grew as University of Florida researchers found three UF/IFAS-developed sorghum varieties could produce up to 1,000 gallons of ethanol per acre.

"Sweet sorghum has the potential to be an effective feedstock for ethanol production," said Wilfred Vermerris, a UF/IFAS professor of microbiology and cell science and a co-author on the study.

Ethanol produced from sweet sorghum can be used for auto and jet fuel, UF/IFAS researchers said.

UF/IFAS researchers picture big fuel potential from sorghum partly because it's so abundant. Sorghum is the fifth largest cereal crop in the world and the third largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2014, the U.S. was the largest producer of sorghum in the world.

UF/IFAS scientists like sorghum because it can be cultivated twice a year in Florida, requires little fertilizer, uses water efficiently and can be drought resistant, UF/IFAS research shows.

Combine this with terra preta to get more harvests per year and they might have something.


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by FatPhil on Friday December 15 2017, @09:06AM (8 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Friday December 15 2017, @09:06AM (#610201) Homepage
    > up to 1,000 gallons of ethanol per acre.

    Up to ~4500 litres of ethanol per ~4000 square metres?

    Per day? Per century? That is not a production rate unless there's a time component.

    And, as that range includes the number 0, I can achieve the same rates in my freaking bellybutton.
    --
    I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday December 15 2017, @10:38AM (6 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @10:38AM (#610226) Journal

    It's per harvest. If you scan the summary it says in Florida they can get two harvests per year. If you can use a very fertile soil like the terra preta the Indians in the Amazonian basin manufactured, you can get more crops per year than that. I have read, though don't have the citation at hand, that with the soil the tribes there were able to get up to 8 harvests per year. Can you imagine? It doesn't seem possible, but even if that's on the outside it still means you can get much more productivity out of your acreage.

    I suspect that if we ever really did grow fuel like this article suggests, then the same thing would happen to our food scraps that already happened with waste cooking oil--it will go from being refuse to feedstock (or compost, in this case).

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 1) by Gault.Drakkor on Friday December 15 2017, @07:32PM (2 children)

      by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Friday December 15 2017, @07:32PM (#610411)

      Majority of plants are something like 0.1-2% efficient at turning sunlight into plant. Some plants, prime example sugar cane, are 4% efficient.
      Wikipedia article photosynthetic efficiency.

      Even if you can get 12 harvests a year it doesn't matter. The current theoretical max is incident solar influx * .04. The benefits are less then that due to fertilizer, harvest and processing costs.

      So return on invested energy is really low. Low enough that at this time it is below total system unity, well below. Cool research, but this should be research only.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @10:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15 2017, @10:01PM (#610497)

        So, don't make energy from the sun, because it's not as efficient as making it from old dinosaurs?

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday December 16 2017, @01:58AM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 16 2017, @01:58AM (#610589) Homepage Journal

        Unlike corn, sorghum doesn't require intensive fertilization. So, switching from corn biofuel to sorghum biofuel will save a lot of the energy investment.

        --
        alles in Ordnung
    • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Friday December 15 2017, @10:55PM (2 children)

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Friday December 15 2017, @10:55PM (#610527)

      I suspect that if we ever really did grow fuel like this article suggests, then the same thing would happen to our food scraps that already happened with waste cooking oil--it will go from being refuse to feedstock (or compost, in this case).

      I wonder if we could grow such crops with raw sewage as fertilizer? Would save a lot of costs all around.

      • (Score: 1) by Crash on Saturday December 16 2017, @03:48AM (1 child)

        by Crash (1335) on Saturday December 16 2017, @03:48AM (#610606)

        Unlikely. North Korea has been using human waste for fertilizer, and it's suspected a large portion of the populace are infected with varying amounts of Tape Worms.

  • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Friday December 15 2017, @03:08PM

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 15 2017, @03:08PM (#610306) Journal

    Per day? Per century? That is not a production rate unless there's a time component.

    Quite right. TFS says "twice a year," in Florida.

    And, as that range includes the number 0, I can achieve the same rates in my freaking bellybutton.

    Also quite right. It's not as bad as "Up to 1000 or more" (which would be the set of all real numbers), but still pretty bad specificity there.