A project to produce ethanol from sweet sorghum, is described in the biofuel review. The project being implemented jointly by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Rusni Distilleries, has achieved a significant milestone with the first batch of ethanol flowing out of the distillery at Mohammed Shapur village in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Through its ethanol from sweet sorghum project, ICRISAT has been promoting the idea of generating bio-fuel without compromising on food production.
“Our emphasis with the sweet sorghum project is that ethanol is produced from the sweet juice available in the stalk of the crop plant, unlike in the use of grains in other plants. The farmers will continue to use the sorghum grain, while they can earn an additional income from selling the juice,” said Dr Belum VS Reddy, ICRISAT's Principal Sorghum Breeder.
Sweet sorghum has other benefits over sugarcane and corn as feedstock for ethanol production. It requires only one half of the water required to grow maize and around one eighth of the water required to grow sugarcane; and has the least cost of cultivation which is around one fifth of the cost for growing sugarcane.