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LSU's Pilot Plant

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ST. GABRIEL - Thanks to the Audubon Sugar Institute, one day you could be filling up your with gas made from sugar.

"This is a green fuel, this is something that's renewable, this is something that we can grow very readily in the southeastern part of the United States, that can maybe give us that future fuel supply," said Ben Legendre, head of the LSU AgCenter's Audubon Sugar Institute.

The St. Gabriel facility is home to a pilot plant that, in a few weeks, will be processing sugar syrup to be made into rubber, plastic or fuel.

The plant will work like a real sugar mill, and is part of a $17 million grant designed to examine the feasibility of growing sugar cane alternatives that aren't meant for consumption.

"In no way the grant is targeting replacing the existing cane sugar with a different crop," said Vadim Kochergin, director of the pilot plant.  "It's rather going beyond the traditional cane sugar."

"The bottom line is whether or not these crops can actually be grown, be processed, and actually get the farmers a return on their investment," Legendre said.

These alternative crops could allow sugar growers to grow on different land, and to keep their mills running longer every year.


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