DTN Distillers Grain Update

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By Cheryl Anderson
DTN Staff Reporter

Advancements in developing new fractionated and higher value products from distillers grains into higher value products, and new ethanol processing aids such as antimicrobials, were the focus of a number of speakers at the recent Distillers Grains Technology Council's annual Distillers Grains Symposium Thursday in St. Louis.

Dr. Harold Tilstra, manager and ingredient merchandising technical support for Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (Land O'Lakes), spoke about the trend of fraction, the first being corn oil separation.

Tilstra described oil removal as "the biggest change in distillers grains in the last decade," however, the technology has become so popular that most ethanol plants currently operating now remove oil by use of a centrifuge. The oil becomes an additional source of revenue for ethanol plants and is usually sold for biodiesel production or as an addition to some animal feeds, especially for poultry rations.

Tilstra described a variety of nutrient enhancements and concentration technologies that are being incorporated by the industry, including fiber digestion/removal. Fiber digestion involves converting fiber into sugars to achieve higher ethanol production or to provide extra energy for poultry, and possible swine rations. Fiber is removed from the corn fiber either before or after fermentation. However, fiber removal may change the nutrient profile of the resulting distillers grains, possibly even improving nutrient availability.

Protein concentration/separation is another new fractionation technology coming to the forefront -- one that can add value to the resulting distillers grains as well.

Alfredo Dicostanza, professor of beef cattle nutrition and management from the University of Minnesota, spoke about high-protein DDG in livestock rations. He said that high-protein DDG is sold at a premium to corn and that feeders like that it has better consistency because of less intensive drying that is used. The bran removal used to produce high protein DDG can also significantly reduce mycotoxins. He added that although high-protein DDG is currently being produced and sold, it needs more trials and analysis.

Challenges facing the industry regarding new fractionated products include nutrient variation, overlap in commodity space, meeting existing product definitions, customer and nutritionist acceptance, and competition for storage space at feed mills, Tilstra said.

A panel of researchers spoke about a new project: an integrated C5-based platform for coproducts from DDG: David Timmons from Brown Forman Corporation, and Jagannadh Satyavolu, Michael Nantz and Christopher Burns, all from the University of Louisville. While other fractionation methods are being used to separate the oil, starch or protein, this technology uses the corn fiber from DDG to create two coproduct streams: one that is higher in protein and another that is higher in fat and digestibility energy. The technology can also be used to use other fractions of DDG to producer sweeteners and food coloring, biodegradable polymers, cyclic olefin polymers, and aviation fuels.

Another speaker, Joe Riley from Riley Resource Group, told conference attendees about new products made from distillers corn oil (DCO). He said technology has potential uses in both feed and fuel applications, and that corn oil use was predicted to more than triple by 2022.

So far, the DCO produced has varied significantly in quality and quantity, however, Corn Oil OneTM has a processing plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, that is producing a ready-to-use, consistent corn oil product for both biodiesel and industrial applications. This product could potentially open up new feed markets as it is antibiotic free and meets standards for pet foods (equal to human food standards). However, generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and Kosher certifications would be essential for the product, Riley said. Uses for industrial markets could include paints, polymers and lubricants, as well as higher-end applications.

Riley predicted that DCO production per bushel will continue to grow. He added that product differentiation is key to unlocking new markets, and that improved quality is the key to adding value.

PROCESSING AIDS

The symposium also featured a New Product Panel with representatives from various companies who spoke on new antimicrobial agents and processing aids developed for ethanol production.

Two speakers highlighted new antimicrobials that their respective companies have developed, a timely topic amid growing public concern over antibiotic use/antibiotic residue in livestock feed.

Eric Summer spoke about new antimicrobials for the ethanol industry developed by his company: Anitox. The company has developed an antimicrobial that takes a proactive, rather than a reactive approach to control bacteria. The product (OptimOH) is antibiotic-free and residue-free, meets generally recognized as safe (GRAS) requirements, and is injected early in the process before bacteria have a chance to take hold.

Allen Ziegler, with the Hydrite company, told attendees about Defender, a new broad spectrum antimicrobial his company has developed. Defender is an antimicrobial agent that acts on cell membranes and cell cytoplasm. It is GRAS approved for animal feed up to 173 parts per million, is effective against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, and is available in both solid and liquid forms. Hydrite is currently running trials on the product at ethanol plants.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at cheryl.anderson@dtn.com

Follow Cheryl Anderson on Twitter @CherylADTN

(PS/CZ)