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Unique Type of Ethanol from Sugarcane?

In the current thread 10 Things you like about $10.00 gas a comment was made that the ethanol from sugarcane is unique,with more BTU’s than ethanol from corn.Is this true? Post made by a G.Brown on 7/7/08

No, ethanol is ethanol. What is true is that it takes fewer BTUs/gallon to make ethanol from sugar cane, it’s an easier process and the cane leftovers can be used for fuel. But you still have to grow the cane, which, in the tropics, can result in rain forest destruction.

Found my own answer on Wikipedia it is true.Seems to be the best plant to convert to ethanol.

Two different things - ethanol is ethanol, but cane is easier to convert.

Except that the whole point of ethanol was to have a fuel with a domestic supply. Except for Hawaii, that rules it out for the US.

I understand,nothing different about the type of ethanol as the post on 7/7/08 claims just more available from sugarcane.

Wikipedia claims sugarcane production in Florida Louisana Hawaii and Texas

unique… yes, RUM

keep 'em away from the rum supply!

yes sugar cane is grown in Fla. been there, seen it.

Sugarcane can be grown in all those places but only a small part of the whole. There is not enough land available to make a big dent in the corn-for-fuel crop IMO. Only coastal areas have enough water to support sugarcane - it won’t grow in West Texas. I imagine that there is more land sutiable for corn in those states than sugarcane, no matter what they use it for.

It’s the sugar that gets fermented into ethanol. Clearly, sugar cane would have more sugar to convert than corn does. The upside of using corn for ethanol is that what’s left over can be used to feed cattle. Downside is trhat it can’t be used to feed people. Sugar BEETS can also be used in ethanol production, and I believe it’s more efficient than corn, but not as efficeient as sugar cane.


But yields from a grass that only needs to be planted once would deliver an average of 13.1 megajoules of energy as ethanol for every megajoule of petroleum consumed?in the form of nitrogen fertilizers or diesel for tractors?growing them. “It’s a prediction because right now there are no biorefineries built that handle cellulosic material” like that which switchgrass provides, Vogel notes. “We’re pretty confident the ethanol yield is pretty close.” This means that switchgrass ethanol delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent more energy returned by corn-based ethanol according to the most optimistic studies.

Sugar-beets can get in on this party too! They will grow almost anywhere. When gasoline gets up to $6/gallon,this stuff will all make economic sense and it will happen all by itself…

The entire “personal transportation” picture is going to change. The way we live is going to change and change rather quickly. Humans tend to resist that.

Sugercane ethanol is a very efficient product from a total life cycle point of view. In Brazil the stuff is planted and grows without irrigation or fertilizer. The sugar readlily turns into alcohol (methanol). The waste product is used a the plant fuel, so little extra energy is used.

Unless there is plenty of land with a high rainfall and warm temperatures, sugar cane ethanol is not a good environmental product either. There are some areas of the US that are suitable, but the alternative uses for this land, such as growing rice, have to be avaluated. Brazil has less than 1/3 the US population, much lower car ownership, and the ideal climate for sugar cane. They supply 40% of their gasoline needs with ethanol.

With growing world population, all arable land will eventually have its highest value as food growing crop land. That’s why only ethanol from algea and waste agricultural materials has a long term future.

I’m sure it’s a typo - you meant ‘ethanol’, not ‘methanol’, right?

Sorry about the typo; yes it’s ETHANOL. Methanol is nasty stuff I wwould not want in my car.

Ethanol is all the same. It is a specific chemical and does not come in flavors. However it takes less energy input to produce ethanol (under the right conditions, but once it is ethanol, there is no difference.


In ten years, maybe. There are no pilot plants yet; cellulosic ethanol is still in the laboratory.

I have seen sugar cane along military highway east of McAllen, Texas.

I certainly know sugar cane. My brother-in-law retired recently after 30+ years as a cane inspector. I have spent many an hour riding around with him as he designated which fields were to be harvested next. He also gave me a tour of the plant in Cordoba, Ver. Mexico.

Mexico has a surplus of sugar, or at least the last I knew it did. The problem is no factories to produce ethanol in the quantities needed and with the cane available.