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Sugar Beet Ethanol

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A short PDF file from UC Davis on Mendota Advanced Bioenergy Beet Cooperative.




A good review of modern processing plant that utilizes sugar beet stock for ethanol as well area agricultural waste for heat, electric generation, natural gas production. These modern plants utilize several processes and diverse feed stocks that are locally available. Usually, cogeneration CHP equipment, anaerobic digesters, with the cellulosic and normal starch or sugar ethanol processes. This plant also pulls in most of the city of Mendota sewage for process water. Digester co product of irrigation water and 10-10-10 fertilizer for field or landscaping use. A 33 million gal/year plant also selling natural gas and electricity.


Two plant versions depicted. It’s unclear which one they will utilize.     


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Michigan has 155 x1,000 acres in sugar beets.

Minnesota 504 x 1,000 acres

ND 261

ID 169

CA 44


Wow, four states produce all the sugar beets and Minnesota most of them. California has little sugar beets and building this plant. Michigan has no sugar beet ethanol plants.


That beet plant schematic is close to what Poet is trying to accomplish with corn. A cellulose process in parallel with starch process. The left behind hard lignin portion of cellulose that usually not processed has more energy per pound than coal. They burn the lignin in steam boilers to power electric steam turbine operating for heat and power. Also, lignin would be a valuable pellet fuel for pellet stoves. They should have that process in reserve if natural gas is cheap. Ethanol could get lots of energy if teaming up with those natural gas turbine electric power plants. Their building more NG turbines as they are cheap and require low regulations/permits. Ethanol could utilize their heat waste stream.


Interesting they plan on processing the city's waste water in digester and apply the digester waste fluid to irrigate and 10-10-10 fertilizer. 

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James's link from LSU Ag Center feed stock '07.


. Corn is king, cheapest feedstock and process


. Sugar beets close to sugar cane

    - Better income from sugar production


Interesting that Louisiana costs back in '07 made it more profitable to make ethanol from molasses than directly from sugarcane or sugar beets. That I believe has changed as well as cost to produce sugar cane ethanol. Modern harvesting and plant processing technology has pushed sugar cane ethanol to the lead at least in other countries with different cost factors. It would be interesting to compare sugar cane to corn within a level playing field. Of course that is happening within our borders. The huge open market of thousand of business minds with calculators in hand are evaluating business ventures daily. So, not much sugar cane production jumping out to lead ethanol production as well as sugar beets. We have current production of both and both have a very hard time competing. Some say like big oil, big corn has savaged the market and has spoiled it all for cost effective ethanol to appear. Ya, right. All we need is to stop cost effective solutions for our economy to flourish, just like the notion to employ more within our factories with expensive electricity/energy burdens and material in a attempt to make these high priced alternatives viable. 


My guess the California sugar beet ethanol is profitable from a stable of government incentives, subsidies, tax benefits. When the easy money dries up their goes their business model. Maybe not. Maybe the business success from combining the processes. Liquid municipal waste is very expensive per fed regulation. Most liquid waste stream lose the regulation cost if the waste is recycled. The sugar beet processing plant in linked schematic does this. The plant is ideal in that it takes a waste stream from Mendota saving the city a ton of cost and utilizes the fluid to produce fuel ethanol as well as generating natural gas and 10-10-10 fertilizer for farmers and landscape customers. Sugar beets not a cost effective ethanol feedstock.......on their own.


Think of starch and corn ethanol if they evolved to this business model and took over city sewage responsibility. Most of the revenue generated upon that service. Private companies would be a ton more creative and able to make decisions for better solutions. Public services are mired in politics and public discussions. Successful managers of cities need only work within the political energy and be awarded for doing good work within this spectrum.  When citizens start to complain of public or central control costs, better to hand the reins to those more capable in cost effectiveness and improving the economy.


May the ethanol processors enjoy profitable operation if taking up the cost of solid and liquid municipal waste. That these hybrid ethanol plants utilize feed stocks of corn, sugar cane, sorghum, miscanthus, and/or utilize the waste feedstock to balance the production. Production outputs of natural gas, electricity, and processes waste water suitable for quality irrigation or fertilizer. Maybe it's better to utilize waste in biological fashion than merely sanitize and chemical treat to dump in rivers. Sure the traditional waste treatment route easy to regulate and makes the reporting easier. We have invested heavily in generating tons of oversight and white collar jobs, but may it be better to lose the iron grip and let the biological world do a better job?

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