A new ethanol plant project that would make both grain based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol will be good for Kansas and its agriculture industry, according to corn and sorghum growers. Abengoa announced on Aug. 23 that it would build a hybrid ethanol project at Hugoton that would feature an 85 million gallon grain-based ethanol plant and a 30 million gallon cellulosic ethanol plant. Abengoa officials pointed to the unique synergy between the two ethanol processes. Leaders of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association agree.

“Conventional ethanol has created a good market for my grain sorghum. The cellulosic ethanol would be made from the crop residue, like sorghum and corn stalks, and that can create an additional revenue stream for growers,” KGSPA President Greg Shelor of Minneola said.

Cellulosic ethanol can also be made from grasses, forage sorghums and other cellulosic materials.

“There is a lot of interest in some of the forage sorghum varieties that would produce a very large amount of material for cellulosic production,” he said. “Obviously sorghum producers are following that closely.”

Abengoa officials have said they would place a strong emphasis making sure the right amount of crop residue remains in the fields because it is in their best interest for growers to continue to use the best agronomic and conservation practices.

Abengoa said the Hugoton plant will be the first cellulosic ethanol plant in the U.S. The development of the cellulosic ethanol industry will help America meet its goals for producing domestic renewable energy, according to KCGA President Bob Timmons, Fredonia.

“It’s exciting to see companies beginning to move forward in developing cellulosic ethanol plants,” Timmons said. “Our country is setting some aggressive goals for renewable fuels, and cellulosic ethanol will play a big role in meeting those goals.”

Timmons said corn growers see cellulosic ethanol as a new opportunity for those involved in agriculture.

“Some people automatically assume that as a corn grower, I would not be interested in cellulosic ethanol production,” Timmons said. “Whether you’re selling your grain, your stover or both to an ethanol plant, that is a benefit to you as a farmer. Cellulosic ethanol won’t replace conventional ethanol, it will complement it.”

Kansas now has 9 ethanol plants that use 96 million bushels of corn and sorghum to produce over 270 million gallons of ethanol per year. Those ethanol plants are operating in Garden City (2 plants), Russell, Phillipsburg, Campus, Garnett, Colwich, Atchison and Leoti. Plants in Pratt, Hayne near Liberal, Lyons, Scandia and Goodland are under construction. Other plants are in various stages of planning. Visit www.ksgrains.com for more information on Kansas ethanol, KCGA and KGSPA


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