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Design Modification and Testing of a Laboratory-Scale Sweet Sorghum Stalk Press

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(1): 99-104. (doi: 10.13031/2013.41272) @2011
Authors:   C. T. Cosgrove, R. L. Huhnke, D. D. Bellmer
Keywords:   Sweet sorghum, Ethanol, Roller press, Pressing efficiency.

Sweet sorghum is an excellent source of sugar which can easily be fermented and distilled into fuel grade ethanol which makes it a viable biofuels crop. Plot and field studies have been used to estimate sweet sorghum production potential over a wide range of soil types and environmental conditions. During the past four years, a laboratory-scale stalk press has been used at Oklahoma State University to provide juice quality and quantity comparisons of sweet sorghum varieties. The purpose of this study was to improve a laboratory-scale sweet sorghum press through redesign of rollers for better grip on stalks and better pressing efficiency, and implement a system to allow rollers to move vertically to prevent plugging. The new rollers were designed based on sugar milling technology. A hydraulic pressure system was designed to allow vertical movement of two rollers. Roll gap pressure levels of 1.5, 2.2, 3, and 4.5 MPa were chosen for evaluation. It was observed that stalk grip using grooved rollers with the hydraulic pressure system improved and plugging was less frequent. For grooved rollers, the optimum operating point for juice expression was a uniform projected pressure of 3 MPa which yielded juice expression efficiencies over 40%. Results of this study provide a better understanding of how roller design and roll gap pressure can impact sweet sorghum stalk press performance.

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