- As corn-based
ethanol production has nearly peaked at the 15,000,000,000 gallons per
year cap, producers are looking to dry
corn fractionation to make their existing production capacity
more efficient and profitable.
exist with wheat and barley
feedstocks. When fractionated, the biofuels complex may be labeled as
'Advanced Biofuels', due to the extremely low carbon footprint which
can be created by using the biomass generated from the wheat and barley
fractionation process. Many Advanced Biofuels plants
will qualify for
government loan guarantees.
What is Fractionation?
The fractionation of cereal grains, as applied to ethanol / biobutanol
production, is the mechanical separation of the grain's physical
components of pericarp (bran or hull), endosperm, and usually, germ.
AMS has various fractionation technologies which may be applied to
multiple ethanol / biobutanol feedstocks including maize (corn) ( see
Corn Fractionation Brochure ), sorghum (milo),
wheat, barley, rice, and other grains (
see Small Grains Brochure ). Yucca (cassava or mandioca),
although not a cereal grain, may also be enhanced as an ethanol /
feedstock using AMS and partnering technologies ( see Cassava Brochure ).
There is a reason why 'Fractionation' is a buzzword throughout the
ethanol / biobutanol industry. No matter the feedstock, fractionation
multiple advantages to the ethanol / biobutanol producer to make their
profitable. Some of the significant advantages are the following:
- More Efficient Utilization of
AMS fractionation eliminates up to 18% by weight, or approximately 35%
by volume, of relatively non-fermentable, high fiber co-products. This
creates approximately 35% more space in the fermentation vessels for
the production of ethanol / biobutanol.
- More Efficient Saccarification
Starch linkages become more accessible to enzymatic activity due to
increased starch loading and the absence of non-fermentables. This
results in a more rapid conversion and/or decreased enzyme usage. This,
in conjunction with more efficient utilization of fermentation vessels,
allows for an increase in plant ethanol / biobutanol output of
- Significant Reductions in Natural Gas
Natural gas costs are typically a production facility's largest
cost, other than the feedstock. Drying of DDGS can account for the
majority of the natural gas consumption. Isolation of bran and germ on
the front end of the plant eliminates the bulk of the solids being
handled throughout the fermentation process. These products no longer
need to be dried from extremely high moistures on the back end of the
plant. A typical plant can save millions of dollars per year on natural
gas costs. Moreover, utilizing the bran co-product as a solid fuel via
combustion or gasification ( see Drying and Co-Product
Utilization ) can replace the majority of the energy
consumed by the production facility.
- Isolation of High Oil Content Germ
The extraction of germ can be accomplished effectively in nearly all
grains. However, it is typically most profitable to apply degermination
to corn due to the large size of the germ. While about a third of the
oil in a corn kernel is locked up in the starch-protein matrix of the
endosperm, the germ contains nearly all of the remaining oil. AMS corn
degermination systems produce a pure whole germ stream capable of
providing greater than one pound per bushel of valuable oil.
- Isolation of High Total Dietary Fiber
Whether the feedstock is corn, barley, wheat, rice, or other cereal
grains, the bran coat provides excellent supplementation for human
consumption. The bran also makes an excellent animal feed with or
without the syrup from the ethanol plant mixed with it. In many cases,
the best value for the bran comes as a solid fuel to reduce dependence
on the volatile natural gas markets (
see Drying and Co-Product Utilization ).
- Optional Production of Food Grade Prime
AMS plants are food grade and can co-produce prime food products and
fermentation stock from all grains. Flaking grit, brewer's grits, prime
semolinas and flours all have the capability to help a plant squeeze
more value out of a bushel of grain ( see
LifeLine Foods Brochure ).
- Platform for Emerging Technologies
Fractionation is the key to unlocking the potential for several
emerging technologies. Biobutanol and other fermentation technologies
such as cellulosic
conversion of the grain's fiber, starch isolation from endosperm, and
'no cook' all may have a large impact on the biofuels industry.
Fractionation is essential for any of these technologies to perform
- High Resultant DDGS Protein
Isolating the fibrous non-fermentables on the front end of the plant
prevents them from passing through the ethanol plant and being present
in the DDGS. Therefore, the remaining solids are concentrated with
proteins which were present in the endosperm's starch-protein matrix
and yeast protein.
Sudden Interest in Fractionation?
Milling installations have been efficiently dry fractionating grain for
decades, although with a different emphasis on products (typically food
products). But, by and large, the process of dry fractionation has only
recently been accepted by the dry-grind ethanol industry. One must
wonder...if dry fractionation has been possible for decades and the
benefits are so apparent, why is fractionation just now being applied
to the production of ethanol? Consideration of fractionation before
fermentation for ethanol was considered at least as early as 1997, but
for many reasons the technology has recently increased in popularity.
Some of the reasons include:
- Increased Demand for Biofuels
The recent increased demand for ethanol has producers looking to expand
production capacities. Fractionation is one relatively quick way to
increase capacity and be prepared for biobutanol production in the near
- Volatile Natural Gas Prices
Volatile natural gas prices have producers looking for ways to decrease
drying costs and for alternative sources of fuel. Fractionation can
provide relief in both of these areas.
- Phasing Out of Trans-Fatty Acids in
Corn oil, which is free of trans-fats, is a very attractive alternative
to soy oil, which contains trans-fatty acids. Fractionation isolates
the high oil germ and prepares it for oil expelling.
- Increased Demand for Biodiesel
Although there is a premium for corn oil sold to the human consumption
industry, biodiesel plants are a perfect outlet for valuable corn oil.
- 'Crossover' In Knowledge and Technology
between the Cereal Milling Industry and the Biofuels Industry
Until recently, the synergies between the cereal milling industry and
the ethanol / biobutanol industry were not fully recognized. Now there
more exchange of technology and communication between those who
understand fermentation and those who understand cereal milling.
- Adverse Market Conditions
During times of unfavorable market conditions for the biofuels
producer, fractionation provides the producer a way to remain more
profitable. When grain
prices rise and biofuel prices fall, AMS fractionation provides a way
to improve plant efficiency to help survive the 'crunch'.
- Saturated DDGS Markets
The typical ethanol plant can generate nearly one million pounds of
day. With all of the new ethanol plants on-line the DDGS
continue to saturate, which will significantly bring down the price
that ethanol plants can get for their DDGS. Ethanol plants that
fractionate and diversify their co-products will produce less DDGS,
although at a premium price, while other valuable co-products are
generated as well.
Applied Milling Systems?
Applied Milling Systems' values, along with diverse experience in the
cereal milling and biofuel processes, provide a foundation that ensures
your process will operate more efficiently and that your working
relationship with Applied Milling Systems will be an enjoyable and
Process - Fractionation for Fermentation
Fractionation for cereal grains is neither new, nor unproven. It is not
magic, and it's benefits are not based upon 'smoke and mirrors'. All of
the aforementioned benefits are real enough and applying traditional
cereal milling techniques to ethanol production is an idea whose time
offering the following equipment for your corn fractionation,
as well as small grains applications: