DuPont, NexSteppe form biomass sorghum partnership

By Anna Austin | January 05, 2012

Advanced plant genetic supplier DuPont has partnered up with biomass feedstock developer NexSteppe to develop new sweet sorghum and high biomass sorghum hybrids for biofuels, biopower and biobased products.

As per the agreement, DuPont has made an equity investment in NexSteppe, a company with locations in the U.S. and Brazil, and will provide knowledge, resources and advanced technologies through its Pioneer Hi-Bred business. The companies will work to accelerate breeding and commercialization of new sorghum hybrids, in both the U.S. and Brazil.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, the largest U.S. producer of hybrid seeds, was founded in 1924 and was fully acquired by DuPont in 1999. It produces markets and sells hybrid seed corn in nearly 70 countries worldwide, as well as hybrids or improved varieties of sorghum, sunflower, soybeans and more.

A naturally drought- and heat-tolerant plant, sorghum has the ability to grow in marginal rainfall areas with high temperatures, and can thrive in areas where it is difficult to grow other crops. While sweet sorghum can be used along with sugarcane in existing Brazillian ethanol plants and as a feedstock for advanced biofuels, high biomass sorghum is a high-yielding crop that can be used to generate biopower, according to DuPont.