Ethanol from organic sugar beets versus refined cane sugar
. The purpose of my project is to determine the cost inputs and energy outputs of small scale ethanol production from local and conventional sources. I decided to use local grown organic sugar beets farmed with bio-fueled agricultural equipment. In comparison to the costs of a local source, I also used conventional sugar transported from Mexico and sold at a local restaurant supply company. In addition, I made Amal's ethanol still
to do the testing.
Ethanol is a grain alcohol that can be used as fuel in most four cycle spark ignition engines. The process of making ethanol begins by extracting the sugars from a sugar crop such as sugar beets, or converting the starches of crops such as corn or potatoes to sugars. Crops used for ethanol production are titled "feed stocks". Starch and sugar crops both have their benefits depending on the region that they are produced in. The benefit of sugar crops is that they require less energy input since no starches need to be converted. The benefit of corn is that it can store much longer than sugar beets before rotting. I am using sugar beets since they were the most appropriate crop for the season and region. The sugars are extracted by juicing the beets and boiling with water. Now the solution is called "mash" and it can be fermented and then distilled to extract the ethanol. Read more...