Coalition Asks For Surplus Sugar

Published online: Nov 28, 2000
A recent study indicates adding sugar during fermentation increases ethanol production while decreasing fermentation time without displacing corn, prompting the American Coalition for Ethanol to ask the USDA to open the sugar surplus to ethanol producers.

The American Coalition for Ethanol is asking the USDA to allow ethanol producers to bid on surplus sugar, according to Trevor Guthmiller, executive director. This is in response to results of a recent study indicating the addition of sugar during the fermentation process increases ethanol production while decreasing fermentation time without displacing corn. In fact, results indicate the process increases corn usage.

Guthmiller says the test shows the process consumes an additional 160,000 bushels per year with the addition of 3,755 tons per year of sugar. It produces an additional 442,800 gallons per year of ethanol.

The study was conducted at Minnesota Energy of Buffalo Lake, MN, an ethanol plant owned by corn growers. The facility produces around 12,000,000 gallons per year.

Guthmiller explains the study was conducted during September and October. Sugar was added to fermentation tanks at varying intervals. The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association donated sugar to the facility.

Guthmiller says plant operators determined a 4- to 5-percent mixture provided the optimum results. More ethanol was produced and fermentation time was reduced by two hours.

According to Guthmiller, the next step is to expand the test to other facilities by making the surplus available. He estimates there are over 60 facilities across the country.

"The research we could gain by letting other plants use it would be very beneficial," he says.