ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS OF RENEWABLE FUELS DERIVED FROM GRAINS AND RELATED BIOMASS
Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-Products
Project Number: 1935-41000-072-00
Start Date: Oct 29, 2004
End Date: Oct 28, 2009
Lower the cost of fuel ethanol production from corn and barley through improved dry grind and dry milling fractionation techniques, including a new 'ammoniation' process. Develop more efficient processes for converting hulled and hulless barley to fuel ethanol and improved, beta-glucan-free, feed coproducts. Through research assist in creation of a new hulless barley-to-ethanol industry in corn deficient regions, particularly the Mid Atlantic States and the North Western U.S. Use the low-starch ('low carb') and high-fiber, high-oil, and high-protein fractions recovered from corn and barley prior to ethanol fermentation to produce health-promoting food ingredients, functional foods, and extruded snacks. Develop improved processes to convert low valued crop-related biomass, byproducts and energy crops being researched in the ARS energy crop program into renewable hydrogen or liquid fuels and conduct economic feasibility studies for integrating this technology into co-located dry grind ethanol plants. Develop small-scale thermo-chemical technologies that economically, efficiently, and sustainably produce hydrogen and coproducts from agricultural materials.
Develop a continuous corn ammoniator for improving the conversion of corn to fuel ethanol. Conduct research to develop new dry de-germinators, roller mills, and associated fractionation devices with and without 'ammoniation' as a 'front end' to the traditional dry grind ethanol process. Use these techniques on corn and hulled barley to produce high-starch fractions for more efficient fermentations, and low-starch fractions that can be used as value added health-promoting 'low-carb' food ingredients, healthy edible oils and nutraceuticals. Use newly developed hulless barley cultivars and develop new beta-glucan-degrading enzyme technology to reduce fermentation viscosity and improve the production of ethanol from barley. Prepare hulless barley DDGS from beta-glucanase treated fermentations and examine as high-valued feeds for non-ruminants and aquaculture. Low-valued barley hulls and corn bran from corn and barley ethanol processing and energy crops and residues like switch grass, Eastern gama grass, reed canary grass, alfalfa, and corn stover will be studied as substrates for conversion to hydrogen and related liquid and gaseous fuels by thermochemical processes in a pyrolyzer (pyroprobe) coupled to a gas chromatograph/mass-spectrometer (PY-GC/MS) to analyze gasification products. Promising substrates will be converted in a 2-inch bench-top fluidized-bed reactor to test selected feedstock for yields of H2, syngas, char and pyrolytic oil. Process modeling and economic analysis will be conducted on all the technologies studied, to help direct research toward the most fruitful and commercially feasible areas.