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2013 Projects In-depth

Bioprocessing Projects

Collectively, the bioproducess projects address several of the major questions raised about grain-based biofuel production. New animal feeding methods, increased grain yields per acre and preprocessing of corn before fermentation have the potential to provide feedstuffs for all livestock species, generate a surplus of key nutrients and reduce the drying/handling and quantity of less valuable distillers grains fractions. In addition to the outputs of the specific projects, there will be white-paper analysis offering a fresh view of the long term sustainability of grain-based biofuels and their potential to meet the advanced biofuels criteria.


Biofuels Impacts: Processing Database Update

We will continue to update the databases for corn processing and soybean processing, paying particular attention to additions/changes in processing. These databases presently include processing facilities for food and fuel production. Data for Iowa feed mills should be added as they are signficant users of Iowa corn and soybeans, as well as distillers grains and soybean meal. Other organizations also tracking this type of data (DOT, IDALS and others) will be asked to join in support of a unified database for use in many applications. In 2013, this will take the form of an update to the 5-yearly Iowa Grain Flow Survey.


Biofuels Impacts: Fractionation and Other Biofuel Production Techniques

In previous years an assessment of preprocess fractionation of corn (before fermentation to ethanol) was begun. Fractionation represents one of several pathways that the corn-based biofuel industry is employing to continue to improve technical efficiency. Fractionation, by one of several possible methods, removes germs, bran and high protein fractions before fermentation, creating new products that can be readily utilized in various ways from food products to feed rations across the livestock complex. Corn oil from front-end fractionation can enter food, industrial or biodiesel streams. Several firms are looking at validation of corn quality impacts on ethanol yield, as an initial step toward managing input corn more intensively through quality and preprocessing.


Biofuels Impacts: Industry Measurement Services

The Value Added Agriculture Program has worked with ISU Grain Quality Lab to develop NIR calibrations for nutritional factors in corn, distillers grains and soybean meal for industry users. As processing plants modify processes with microwave drying, fractionation, super-critical fluid oil extraction, etc., the resulting co-products will need to be characterized and routinely analyzed for nutrients. In 2010-2011, VAAP/IGQI will continue to offer analytical support services to grain related industries. The ability to rapidly measure nutrients in these feed ingredients gives producers and users a better understanding of the character and consistency of the materials, elading to more efficient uses and higher levels of trust in trade. Though much of the work is proprietary, the developmental aspect often contributes to data and publications that can be shared within the grain industry. The number of clients remained at 9 in 2012, with further growth expected in 2013, in the area relating analytical data to processing plant outputs. This is a cost recovery service.


Food Safety-Quality Systems Projects

Quality Control: Training Programs in Biosecurity, Food Safety and QMS Applications

The quality control projects address food safety and the application of broader quality management systems to grain distribution. An expertise in food systems traceability applied to bulk materials has been developed in the past four years; an international conference was held in June 2009. In 2012, ISU was awarded a three-year grant to train FDA personnel in the application of the Food Safety Modernization Act in bulk material systems. This portion of the IQGI allocation will be used to provide the industry application component to the FDA grant. Practical application to grain handling and grain processing will be developed, in the form of distance training, templates and other media.



Grain Management and Current Issues


Grain storage/management related materials from ISU, other Universities and commercial suppliers are being organized into a training program emphasizing quality management.

- Decision making spreadsheets will emphasize cost of storage construction and logistics of crop movement.

- A web-based training program started in 2006 to emphasize increased storage impacted by the ethanol industry will be expanded.

Harvest issues are always present but unknown until late in the season. An extension grain storage team was created to better address the more diffuse needs of clientele in a relatively mature science area. The International Center for Grain Operations and Processing partnership has been incorporated and is now seeking tax exempt status. In 2012, the growing concern is a potential heat and drought driven prevalence of aflatoxin in corn.