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March 25, 2013

California farmers team up to convert sugar beets to ethanol

Amid the vast almond orchards and grape fields that surround Five Points in California’s Central Valley, a once-dominant crop that has nearly disappeared from the state’s farms is making a comeback: sugar beets. But these beets won’t be processed into sugar. A dozen farmers, supported by university experts and a $5 million state grant, are set to start construction of a Fresno County demonstration plant that will convert the beets into ethanol. If the demo project in Five Points succeeds, the farmers will build the nation’s first commercial-scale bio-refinery in nearby Mendota to turn beets into biofuel. Europe already has more than a dozen such plants, but most ethanol in the U.S. is made from corn.  Read More

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