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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Postharvest Quality and Processing of Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum for Sugar and Ethanol Production Title: Pilot plant clarification of sweet sorghum juice and evaporation of raw and clarified juices

Authors
item Andrzejewski, Brett
item Eggleston, Gillian
item Powell, Randall -

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 19, 2013
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Citation: Andrzejewski, B., Eggleston, G., Powell, R. 2013. Pilot plant clarification of sweet sorghum juice and evaporation of raw and clarified juices. Industrial Crops and Products. 49:648-658.

Interpretive Summary: A fundamental processing area identified by industry for the commercial, large-scale manufacture of liquid biofuels and bioproducts from sweet sorghum is the clarification of juice to make it suitable for concentration into syrup for long-term storage, year-round supply, efficient transport, and acceptable fermentation yields. The clarification of sweet sorghum juice by heating, liming to pH 6.3 and adding flocculant was validated at the pilot plant scale. Turbidity removal across pilot plant clarification was 95-98% after only 30-50 min. A slightly higher target limed pH of ~6.5 is now recommended to preserve sugars during clarification and downstream thermal evaporation. Overall, clarification of the juices reduced the loss of fermentable sugars during the evaporation stage, and allowed for better storage.

Technical Abstract: One of the fundamental processing areas identified by industry for the commercial, large-scale manufacture of liquid biofuels and bioproducts from sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L Moench) is the clarification of juice to make it suitable for concentration into syrup for long-term storage, year-round supply, efficient transport, and acceptable fermentation yields. Pilot plant studies were conducted to evaluate the clarification of juices (80 °C; target limed pH of 6.3; 5 ppm polyanionic flocculant) from a sweet sorghum hybrid and cultivar M81E on three sample dates across a 3-month (Sept to Nov) processing season in 2011. Turbidity removal across pilot plant clarification was 95-98% after only 30-50 min retention time (Rt). The higher Rt at the pilot than laboratory scale caused a slight loss of total fermentable sugars (sucrose + glucose + fructose) to acid degradation, thus a slightly higher target limed pH of ~6.5 is recommended to preserve sugars during clarification and downstream thermal evaporation. Under non-optimized fermentation conditions (S. cerevisiae yeast 10% w/w; 35 °C; 14 h; 18 Brix), higher and more precise bioethanol yields with less foam formation occurred under sterile than non-sterile conditions for both raw and clarified syrups. Ethanol yields ranged from 7.1 to 8.2% (56.0 to 64.7 g/L) and 5.8 to 8.4% (45.8 to 66.3 g/L) and sterile and non-sterile conditions, respectively. Moreover, under sterile conditions, there were no significant differences at the 5% probability level for ethanol yields between the raw and clarified syrups, indicating clarification did not impede fermentation. Overall, clarification of the juices reduced the loss of fermentable sugars during the evaporation stage, and allowed for better storage.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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