LAST week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has approved grain sorghum as an eligible feedstock under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).
Based on its life-cyle greenhouse gas analysis, EPA said ethanol produced from sorghum qualifies as a renewable fuel because it meets the emission reduction threshold of 20% stipulated in the RFS statute.
"This is a significant step forward for the sorghum industry," said Bill Kubecka, chairman of the sorghum checkoff and a farmer from Palacios, Texas. "This pathway for grain sorghum will make sorghum a more profitable biofuel feedstock for the (renewable fuels) industry, thus increasing the value and demand for sorghum."
The RFS requires a minimum emission reduction threshold and also stipulates that if a feedstock achieves a reduction of more than 50% from the baseline petroleum fuel it would replace, it would qualify as an advanced biofuel. EPA's analysis concluded that grain sorghum met that advanced designation.
EPA began the process of establishing the RFS pathway by publishing the results of its life-cycle analysis through a notice of data availability in mid-June (Feedstuffs, June 11). The data revealed that ethanol produced from grain sorghum at a dry mill facility using natural gas achieved life-cycle emission reductions of 32% and produced an industry average 92% of wet distillers grains.
At an average dry mill facility using only biogas for process energy, grain sorghum could achieve a 52% emission reduction, which qualifies it for the advanced fuel designation.
Data from the sorghum checkoff noted that sorghum requires one-third less water than other comparable biofuel feedstocks while producing the same quantity of ethanol per bushel and offering 34% protein content.