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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2007 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this research project is to develop new, cost effective, alternative methods and engineering processes for corn processing and fractionation using enzymes, immobilized enzymes and other environmentally sustainable processes that maximize the yields of products and co-products (starch, protein, ethanol, oil, and fiber) and increase co-product market diversity and value while eliminating hazardous processing aids, such as sulfites.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
This project was conceived and developed from the concept of taking a new approach to existing processes with the connecting element being enzymatic application. Many of the milling processes currently in use have been done in a similar fashion for over 100 years. By carefully reexamining what we know and don't know, and what works and what still has room for improvement we can use this to guide research towards beneficial modifications of existing processes and invent completely new design concepts. The experimentation for this project is constructed to cover fundamental research through design and economic assessment. Scale-up studies are incorporated into the plan where appropriate demonstration efforts and material are required. Process modeling and cost analysis are critical elements that are incorporated throughout the project design and are intended to aid in the overall process evaluation and to help identify potential problems early in experimentation.

3.Progress Report
This report serves to document research conducted under a Specific Cooperative Agreement between ARS and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More information on this accomplishment can be found in the report in the subordinate project 1935-41000-070-01S. This accomplishment aligns with National Program 306 Component 2, New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods and Biobased Products" Problem Area 2c, “New and Improved Processes and Feedstocks.” This accomplishment is also aligned with National Program 307 Component 1, “Ethanol.” This research project was developed with Univ. of Illinois to pursue the common goal of improving the dry grind ethanol process through the use of "Modified Corn Milling Technologies". A Ph.D. student, funded under this agreement, began working in the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Illinois in the fall 2003 Semester. This student completed his doctoral studies on bioprocess control and process during the course of this agreement. He also spent several months at the Eastern Regional Research Center. This year work was done on improving dry fractionation process (3D Process) by use of different yeast strains and the addition of proteases. A dynamic controller for simultaneous saccharification and fermentation was developed for dry grind corn process. The Controller was tested in a 22 million gallons/yr commercial dry grind ethanol plant. The Elusieve process was scaled up for removing fiber from DDGS. New protease was tested in enzymatic wet milling process. Also during this FY, the Ph.D. student finished his thesis and obtained his Ph.D. He has finished a number of publications based on the thesis work. During the FY, contacts were made with the collaborators by email, phone and through in person meetings held at the University of Illinois and other locations.

Projects completed this year: Effect of yeast strain and addition of protease in improving fermentation of dry degermed corn flour. Development of dynamic controller for simultaneous saccharification and fermentation process. Scale up and testing of the elusieve process. Testing new protease in enzymatic wet milling process.

This report serves to document A Memorandum of Understanding, developed between the Eastern Regional Research Center, the Corn Refiners Association and the University of Illinois. More information about this project can be found in the Annual Report for the subordinate project 1935-41000-070-04M. The agreement was designed to formally establish and strengthen the research relationship between the parties, which has until now been operating under an informal agreement. The parties all share common research interest involving corn processing and this agreement will nourish this interest and improve collaboration benefiting everyone involved. A number of contacts with representatives of member companies of the Corn Refiners Association have taken place during the fiscal 2007 reporting period. These contacts took place at conferences and by telephone.

Corn Fiber Gum Fiber Source Comparison During the processing of corn, several different sources of fiber are produced. In order to determine if these different sources of fiber affect the characteristics of the corn fiber gum (CFG) produced, CFG was isolated from coarse and fine fiber fractions (produced during corn wet milling). The structural characterization of CFG isolated from these fractions was done and correlated with their emulsifying properties. The results indicated that the CFG with high branching and higher protein contents were better emulsifier than those with less branching and lower protein contents. The identification of the structure function relationships for CFG will help make better functional CFG for use in food and beverages and ultimately benefit corn growers and processors. This addresses NP 306 action plan’s "Component 2. New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods and Biobased Products." Specifically it responds to Problem Area 2a. New Product Technology.

Evaluation of New Enzyme for Enzymatic Wet Milling To improve the economics and benefits of the Enzymatic Wet milling process (E-Milling), the identification of new proteases is being investigated. A commercially available protease for use in the enzymatic corn wet milling process was identified and tested. The new enzyme was shown to be as effective as previous identified enzymes, but can be potentially produced at a reduced cost compared to previously available commercial enzymes. This will result in an overall improvement of the E-Milling process economics. Plans are currently being made to test this new enzyme at a plant scale during the later portion of 2007. Successful testing will help demonstrate the effectiveness of the new enzyme and provide needed data to wet millers who are considering switching to this new technology. This addresses NP306 action plan’s "Component 2, New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods and Biobased Products." Specifically it responds to Problem Area 2c. New and Improved Processes and Feedstocks.

Wet Milling Process Model Distribution Researchers working on advanced corn wet-milling research at ERRC and elsewhere had no validated publicly available wet milling process and cost model. Such a model is necessary to better understand the operation of current wet mills and to understand how proposed changes in technology might affect the existing process. To solve this problem, we developed a process model and made it publically available in several different software programs. Since then it has been requested by many industry engineers and scientists, academic researchers and other federal agencies. During FY 2007 the model was requested and distributed more than 29 times. This addresses NP306 action plan's "Component 2, New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods and Biobased Products." Specifically it responds to Problem Area 2c. New and Improved Processes and Feedstocks.

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations

6.Technology Transfer

Number of new commercial licenses granted1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings3

Review Publications
Naidu, K., Singh, V., Johnston, D., Rausch, K.D., Tumbleson, M.E. 2006.Effects of ground corn particle size on ethanol yield and thin stillage soluble solids. Cereal Chemistry, Vol. 84, No. 1, p.6-9.

Wang, P., Singh, V., Xue, H., Johnston, D., Rausch, K.D., Tumbleson, M.E. 2006. Comparison of raw starch hydrolyzing enzyme with conventional liquefaction and saccharification enzymes in dry-grind corn processing. Cereal Chemistry. 84(1):10-14.

Yadav, M.P., Moreau, R.A., Hicks, K.B. 2007. Phenolic acids, lipids, and proteins associated with purified corn fiber arabinoxylans. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 55, p.943-947.

Yadav, M.P., Fishman, M.L., Chau, H.K., Johnston, D., Hicks, K.B. 2007. Molecular characteristics of corn fiber gum and their influence on its emulsifying properties. Cereal Chemistry Vol. 84, No. 2, p.175-180.

Yadav, M.P., Johnston, D., Hicks, K.B. 2007. Characterization of corn fiber gums from coarse and fine fiber and a study of their emulsifying properties. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 55,p.6366-6371.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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