Sorghum in Spotlight Due to Drought, Pending EPA Action
by Holly Jessen (Ethanol Producer Magazine) For years, National Sorghum Producers have advocated for increasing the use of grain sorghum, or milo, as an ethanol feedstock. Lately, the idea seems to be gaining steam. “There’s been increased interest over the past few months,” said John Duff, renewables program director for the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.
The first driver is drought, which has prompted some ethanol producers to search for alternate feedstocks, Duff said. While sorghum does have its limits, it’s more drought tolerant than corn, said Steve McNinch, CEO of Western Plains Energy LLC. “Corn is like a quarter horse, it will eventually run out of water and die. Grain sorghum is kind of like a donkey, it will wait for a while. You will eventually have to water it but it’s stubborn enough to wait. It’s a tropical plant so it likes the heat a lot better.”
… The U.S. EPA is currently reviewing an analysis that ethanol produced from sorghum at a plant powered by natural gas has an estimated lifecycle GHG emission reduction of 32 percent when compared to baseline petroleum. The feedstock offers a 53 percent GHG reduction when used along with advanced process technologies, such as biogas digesters and combined heat and power. This would qualify the fuel as an advanced biofuel under the renewable fuel standard. The comment period on this wrapped up in July and it’s currently unknown when the EPA could come out with a final decision, Duff said. READ MORE