Friday 9 October 2015

Biomass, sugar, and bioethanol potential of sweet corn

GCB Bioenergy, 7, 153-160 (2015)
DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12136

Sweet corn is a widely distributed crop that generates agricultural waste without significant commercial value. In this study, we show that sweet corn varieties produce large amounts of residual biomass (10 t ha-1) with high content of soluble sugars (25% of dry matter) in a short growing season (3 months). The potential ethanol production from structural and soluble sugars extracted from sweet corn stover reached up to 4400 l ha-1 in the most productive hybrids, 33% of which (1500 l ha-1) were obtained by direct fermentation of free sugars. We found wide genetic variation for biomass yield and soluble sugars content suggesting that those traits can be included as complementary traits in sweet corn breeding programs. Dual-purpose sweet corn hybrids can have an added value for the farmers contributing to energy generation without affecting food supply or the environment.