[NEWS] North Dakota Beets to Biofuel Plan On Hold
– April 30, 2016, Bismarck Tribune
Industrial grade sugar beets, which can be used to produce ethanol and plastic, may become a farm crop for central North Dakota in the future, although the time is not right now, according to Maynard Helgaas, president of Green Vision Group.
Green Vision Group has been in the planning process for plants to process industrial sugar beets for fuel and commercial chemicals in a number of North Dakota locations.
“We’ve let the communities know we’re on hold,” Helgaas said. “The costs (of the sugars) are not where we need them to be.”
Helgaas said the cost of storing sugar beets or the juice of the crop is the problem. The storage is necessary for a processing plant to run year-round rather than just in the fall and winter after harvest.
Those problems are being researched but no results are anticipated for at least another year.
Ethanol processing involves converting the feedstock, in this case sugar beets, into a sugar. The sugar is then fermented into alcohol, which is distilled for purity. The same process is done in processing corn ethanol where the corn is converted to sugar before fermenting and distilling.
“The cost for sugar from corn is about 6 cents per pound,” Helgaas said. “The cost of the beet sugar is higher.”