Ethanol plant in Chippewa County, MN.

MN Impact: Improving animal feed produced by the corn ethanol industry

June 10, 2020

Issue

Minnesota is a leading producer of corn, some of which is used by the ethanol industry to make fuels and other products. One of those coproducts is distillers dried grains with soluble (DDGS) which have become a major ingredient in swine diets in the U.S. and global feed industry. However, greater amounts of these coproducts could be used in swine diets if researchers can overcome key barriers for their use.  

What has been done

Phytate is a component in DDGS, but monogastric animals (like swine and poultry) cannot digest it. Thus, phytate ends up in manure and contributes to environmental pollution.

A team of University researchers were interested in exploring ways to improve the method used by the corn ethanol industry to create ethanol and its various coproducts. In particular, they focused on developing a way to extract the phytate during the production process.

Results

This simple method has been demonstrated on a pilot scale and can be incorporated into current corn ethanol production processes to extract high-value phytate—which is then further converted to produce inositol—and use the remaining solids as animal feed ingredients, thus both reducing pollutants and adding value from previously wasted materials. The team has been working with local companies, Absolute Energy and CHS Inc., to incorporate the technology into their systems. In addition, they have received inquiries from companies all-over the world that are interested in licensing the innovation.

This revolutionary tactic will bring additional revenue to the corn ethanol industry by reducing waste, improving feed digestibility and reducing phosphorus discharge into the environment.