The only advanced biofuels in the United States now are sugar cane-based ethanol imported from Brazil and domestic biodiesel, a mixture of petroleum diesel and renewable sources such as soybean oil, said Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association.

A bushel of grain sorghum produces as much ethanol as a bushel of corn. Sorghum (dried distillers grains with solubles) DDGs, a co-product in the starch-to-ethanol production systems, tends to be lower in fat and higher in protein than corn DDGs.

In an article in Ethanol Producer magazine, Chromatin reported it had conducted a successful grain sorghum trial for both a California ethanol producer and new sorghum grower. Using sorghum seed provided by Chicago-based Chromatin, L and R Mussi Farms of Stockton, Calif., produced 40 acres of sorghum that was delivered to Pacific Ethanol’s plant in Stockton.

"During the third quarter, Pacific Ethanol used sorghum for approximately 30 percent of the feedstock at our Stockton plant,” Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol CEO was quoted. “Blended with corn, sorghum has similar conversion properties to corn and produces even lower-carbon ethanol."

With farming in the Central Valley dependent upon irrigation, sorghum’s agronomic requirements are a plus for growers as well. “We were pleasantly surprised by sorghum’s flexibility. It’s a high-yielding, easy-to-grow crop regardless of environmental conditions, and it uses less fertilizer and less water than corn,” said Rudy Mussi, co-owner of Mussi Farms.

Advanced ethanol made from sorghum would give the nation another option, as it aims to meet the federal goal of producing 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels per year by 2022.