Process Development: From Concept to Commercialization of Enzymatic Corn Wet Milling Process

September 20, 2006 - 12:00pm

Corn is converted into valuable food, fuel and industrial products by the corn wet milling process.  Conventional corn wet milling requires a considerable amount of sulfur dioxide addition to disrupt the protein matrix surrounding the starch particles and to aid the separation of starch and protein during the subsequent milling of corn.  The use of sulfur dioxide, because of its toxicity, is an environmental and health concern.  An enzymatic corn wet milling process has been developed that reduces and potentially eliminates sulfur dioxide requirements during steeping, significantly reduces steeping time, and produces higher starch yields than the conventional process.  The enzymatic corn wet milling process consists of two steps: 1) size reduction of corn after a short water soaking of intact kernels and 2) controlled incubation of the coarsely ground slurry with proteases.  Following the enzyme incubation step, the corn slurry is fractionated using conventional wet milling processes.  Results from laboratory-scale tests show that significantly higher amounts of starch (approximately 1.0%) and total gluten solids (approximately 3.5%) can be obtained with the enzymatic milling process compared to the conventional process.  A commercial trial of the enzymatic process was successfully conducted in a 200 metric ton/day corn wet milling plant in August of 2005.  A commercial license for this technology is currently being negotiated.

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