Emerging Opportunities for Corn-Based Fuel Ethanol Fermentation Residues

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Rosentrater, Kurt
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Production and utilization of corn-based fuel ethanol has dramatically increased in recent years. Concomitantly, so has the amount of nonfermentable processing residues. These coproducts are fed to livestock, primarily ruminants (beef and dairy cattle), and to a certain degree swine and poultry. But how much can be consumed by livestock before the feed markets become saturated? The sale of these distillers grains are key to the ethanol industry’s viability. But long-term sustainability will be dependent upon the development of diverse value streams from the corn kernel, both pre- and post-fermentation. The objective of this project is to discuss several new opportunities for corn ethanol coproduct utilization. These include evolving production processes, modifications which improve the digestibility of the residues, upstream and downstream nutrient fractionation, using DDGS (or specific components thereof) as neutraceuticals, as ingredients in human foods, as biofillers in plastics, as feedstocks for the production of bioenergy (i.e., heat and electricity, thermochemical conversion, anaerobic digestion), and as substrates for the further production of ethanol or other biofuels (such as biodiesel). Developing and deploying these potential applications in the marketplace will increase the utility and value of fermentation coproducts, will improve manufacturing economics and augment the viability of the corn-based ethanol industry, and will move the industry toward next-generation biorefineries.


This poster was presented at Corn Utilization and Technology Conference, 4–6 June 2012, Indianapolis, IN.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2012