Energy Beets as a Biofuel Feedstock

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The following was written by Alan Anderson, a freelance writer focusing on green renewable alternative fuels such as sugar based ethanol and biodiesel. He has written for many online publications including Newsvine.com and EnergyBoom.com.

Sugar beets may be the ultimate fuel feedstock.
Energy beets — a variety specifically developed for producing fuel — are high in sugar content, producing twice the amount of ethanol per acre as corn which is typically used in ethanol production. Energy beet production requires less nitrogen fertilizer, which is a large contributor of greenhouse gases.

Energy beets contain 70 percent water and 30 percent dry matter. From a processing standpoint, less water is required to produce a gallon of ethanol (1.5 gallons as compared to 2.5 gallons for corn ethanol).

Other advantages include: 1) adaptability to North American climate; 2) crop rotation benefits; 3) less land use for ethanol production than corn; 4) lower market volatility than corn; 3) no stigma of food production loss as with corn; and 5) source of clean fuel energy (a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as compared to 20 percent for corn and 0 percent for petroleum-based energy).

And there's more. The following is from an article entitled, Exploring Energy Beets:

Energy beets have "rotation benefits" and lower "market volatility" than corn, says Maynard Helgaas, president of Green Vision Group (a company in North Dakota that's been studying “energy beet” fuel production for the past five years. Energy beets would probably be grown with a four-year rotation cycle to minimize disease and insect pests.

The tap roots of energy beets penetrate 10 to 12 feet into the soil, making them very water-efficient and they use nitrogen efficiently too, in addition to “other nutrients that have escaped the root zones of other primary crops.”

“Research has shown that energy beets improve internal soil drainage, have resistance to soil salinity, and require little nitrogen to grow, which could reduce fertilizer costs,” the company says.

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