Mt. Sterling Biofuel Start-Up Gets Funding to Produce Sorghum-Based Ethanol
Southeast Biofuels, a Mt. Sterling-based energy start-up, has been awarded $30,000 in funding from the Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund, which provides public funds to promising, early-stage Kentucky companies developing and commercializing alternative fuels and renewable energy technologies. The grant will aid the company in its development of a portable system that converts sweet sorghum into ethanol for use as a fuel additive.
“These Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund awards demonstrate how small rural companies with big and innovative ideas can start up and succeed no matter where they are located in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “Best of all, these energy companies are developing technologies that can be put to work here in Kentucky – while providing jobs for Kentuckians.”
A Cash Crop
The company's modular fermentation system will produce the liquid fuel at sites where the sorghum feed stock is grown and harvested. Sweet sorghum is similar to corn and grows well in Kentucky, even on marginal lands. The stalks and leaves can be processed in ways similar to sugar cane, with the juice pressed out so it can be fermented into ethanol. “We plan to initially focus on expanding existing sorghum crops, and then later extending our production onto marginal lands,” said Stephen Popyach, president of Southeast Biofuels. “Our crops will help keep money within the Kentucky economy that is currently flowing out to pay for petroleum fuels. We’ll also help existing farms earn an income by paying to use their land to grow our crops.”
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