Ethanol from Corn, Sure. But from Artichokes?

I live in the Phoenix Arizona metropolitan area where we have a lot of sunshine, hot days in the summer, and warm days the rest of the year. Do you think it would be practical to grow Jerusalem artichokes, and harvest just the tops, to allow a new crop next year, and use our abundant solar energy resource here in Arizona to distill the fermented artichoke sugars? I keep hearing that ethanol has a net loss because of the heat needed for the distillation. What do you think? Mark G., Gilbert, AZ

Mark, According to the Alernative Crops Manual, “Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) is familiar to many as a weed but has some potential as a crop plant. Native to the central regions of North America, the plant can be grown successfully throughout the U.S. under a variety of temperature and rainfall regimes. Several North American Indian tribes used Jerusalem artichoke as food prior to the arrival of European settlers. The explorer Champlain took Jerusalem artichokes from North America to France in 1605. By the mid 1600s it was widely used as a human food and livestock feed there.” More to the point, Jerusalem artichokes are a great resource for ethanol. In the November 2004 paper, ” A Shortcut to the Production of High Ethanol Concentration from Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers” by Xiang-Yang Ge and Wei-Guo Zhang, of the The Key Laboratory of Industrial Biotechnology, Ministry of Education, China, states the Jerusalem artichoke contains nearly 20 % of carbohydrates, and after fermentation yields can be up to 21 percent ethanol. Ethanol can be made with a positive energy balance, but actually it is a moot point in the great State of Arizona. I support your idea of using solar thermal for both fermentation and distillation, and there are some interesting systems in the alcohol production literature. Scott Sklar
Previous articleCanadian Cooperative Shares Wind Project Development Model
Next articleCalifornia Helps Renewable Energy Companies Gain Foothold Abroad
Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

No posts to display