Japanese brewery harvests monsters for ethanol production

It stands three meters high, withstands droughts and typhoons, cares not for high-quality soil and yields twice as many stems as most sugarcane. It's formally known as high-biomass sugarcane, but the Japanese are calling it Monster Cane. Asahi Breweries Ltd. and the National Agricultural Research Center for Kyushu Okinawa Region jointly developed this uncanny variety as the country's first endeavor into commercial production of ethanol for fuel as the lack of excess farm produce and high costs have previously been daunting obstacles.

Asahi is hoping that they will be able to produce ethanol from this cane at a cost of about 25 cents per liter which would make it competitive with gasoline. If all goes well with preliminary tests at Asahi's pilot plant, they will set up commercial production in 2010.

Asahi calls their ethanol production process carbon-neutral as they say the cane produces as much as three times the amount of ethanol as other varieties and enough bagasse, or cane waste, for fuel to generate energy for the entire plant.

[Source: Reuters]

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