Negros hits breakthrough with ethanol from sorghum

Another breakthrough in ethanol production took place in Negros Occidental early yesterday morning.

San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. in San Carlos City, for the first time in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, produced fuel ethanol from sweet sorghum, Jose Ma. Zabaleta, SCBI chairman, told the DAILY STAR.
The breakthrough was a joint effort of SCBI, Prof. Rex Demafelis, University of the Philippines Los Baños Alternative Energy Research, Development and Extension convenor and chairman of the UPLB Energy Systems Committee, the Sagay City government, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research and Biomass Resources Inc. that conducted the agricultural trial for the production of sweet sorghum.
Demafiles said they produced 15,231 liters of ethanol by early yesterday morning.
“We were able to produce 247 liters of fuel grade ethanol for every ton of sweet sorghum syrup,” he said.
“We believe it will be cheaper to produce ethanol from sweet sorghum,” Demafiles added.
Zabaleta said the sweet sorghum planted on 30 hectares in Sagay City was converted into syrup by a mill called Options, which was then sent to SCBI for processing into ethanol.
“We are very happy with this milestone. This has never before been tried nor done in the Philippines and Southeast Asia as far as I know.It has been a resounding first success - although of course we have more to learn yet and improve on,” Zabaleta said.
This now proves that the small planters in the hills, or small land reform beneficiaries can participate and increase their income growing sorghum as a combined food and energy crop for transport fuel, he added.
“ What a wonderful breakthrough. Now all we need is for government to support this project by making it a major Program of DA in coordination with the Department of Energy,” Zabaleta said.
SCBI manager Arnel Amparo said ethanol currently sells from P41 to P43 a liter, but they still have to do the numbers to determine the profit margins from the use of sweet sorghum syrup.
Demafiles said they have proven wrong the skeptics who have said sweet sorghum would be difficult to use for producing ethanol.*CPG


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