Submitted to: Distillers Grains Quarterly
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/16/2005
Publication Date: 1/12/2006
Citation: Rosentrater, K.A. 2006. Understanding distillers grains storage, handling, and flowability challenges. Distillers Grains Quarterly, pp.18-21.
Technical Abstract: With the exponential growth of the fuel ethanol industry in the past several years, significant quantities of distillers grains are now being produced. To utilize these coproducts, however, these streams are increasingly being transported greater distances via rail and truck, and must be stored in various structures, such as bins and silos, until final use. Unfortunately, discharge flow is often problematic, due to caking and bridging between particles (Figure 1) which occurs during storage and transport. As I discussed in my previous article, flowability has in fact become one of the major issues that needs to be addressed for effective sales, marketing, distribution, and utilization of distillers grains. For example, because these coproducts do not always flow easily from rail cars, in order to induce flow, workers often hammer the car sides and hopper bottoms. This can lead to severe damage to the rail cars themselves (Figure 2), repairs of which can be very expensive. No one really knows why distillers grains often refuses to flow. Even though anecdotal knowledge is present in the industry, it is proprietary in nature, and often doesn’t address the entire issue. Furthermore, no formal scientific studies have yet been published that have investigated handling and flow properties of distillers grains. Thus, the question remains: “What causes flowability problems with distillers grains?” To answer this challenging question, several key issues must be considered.