Ana Saballos1, John E. Erickson2, Lonnie O. Ingram3, Luisa A. Dempere4, James Preston3, K. T. Shanmugan3, Zhaohui Tong5, Bradley Krohn6, Stephen Kresovich7 and Wilfred E. Vermerris2, (1)Agronomy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (2)Agronomy Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (3)Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (4)Material Science and Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (5)Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (6)U.S. EnviroFuels LLC, Riverview, FL (7)Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
This project is a collaborative effort between four different academic departments at the University of Florida, an industrial partner, Highlands EnviroFuels, LLC, two consulting firms, CardnoEntrix, LLC and Life Cycle Associates, LLC, two industrial collaborators, Myriant and SCF Processing Ltd., and the University of Florida Ethanol Pilot Plant and the Stan Mayfield Biorefinery pilot facility. The project is aimed at the sustainable production of feedstocks, advanced biofuels and high-value bioproducts, whereby cost-reductions are feasible because of the maximally efficient use of the plant biomass. The project cover a wide-range of aspects of the production of biofuels, including the genetics and physiological bases of water use efficiency in sorghum and breeding efforts to develop adapted germplasm, optimization of microbial fermentation of juice and pretreatment and saccharification of sorghum bagasse, and the creation of high value co-products such as poly-lactic acid composites reinforced with lignin and lignin-based carbon nanotubes. The project includes commercial scale test of Florida-bred sweet sorghum varieties and the performance of an economic analysis to estimate the employment opportunities and market potential of implementing a bagasse-to-fuel process and generation of high-value co-products based on water-use efficient sweet sorghums. Successful completion of the project is expected to benefit the rural economy of the area surrounding the biorefinery, Highlands County, Florida, and is intended to serve as a model for similar areas in the Southeastern United States.