Biotech Updates

New Source of Biofuel from Ceres Sweet Sorghum Hybrids

May 11, 2012

Amyris, under a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant, successfully processed the improved sweet sorghum hybrids from energy crop company Ceres, Inc. The sweet sorghum hybrids from Ceres undergo a process of extraction of juice from the stem. Then this juice is concentrated into sugar syrup, after which it is brought to Amyris' pilot facility in California and converted into its trademarked product, Biofene.

Ceres Director of Business Development Spencer Swayze says that they believe sweet sorghum could be an essential source of sugars that could be fermented as the U.S. strives to expand its production of renewable biofuels and biochemical with the help of non-food crops. He also mentioned that sweet sorghum is a producer of cheap, fermentable sugars that would be able to aid in providing low-cost products.

Amyris Director of Product Management Todd Pray said, "The results from these evaluations confirmed that the Amyris No Compromise renewable diesel production process performs well across different sugar sources. Ceres' sweet sorghum hybrids produced sugars that yielded comparable levels of farnesene as sugarcane and other sugar sources Amyris has utilized." He also added that sweet sorghum can offer updated feedstock flexibility with environmental benefits.

Another benefit of using these sweet sorghum hybrids is that it is fast-growing, efficient in producing large quantity of fermentable sugars and biomass, and these plants requires a significantly less amount of fertilizer than sugarcane. Sweet sorghum can also grow in dry areas.

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