Enzymatic corn wet milling: engineering process and cost model
1 United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, PA 19038, USA
2 Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Illinois, 360H, AESB, 1304 W. Pennsylvania Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
Biotechnology for Biofuels 2009, 2:2 doi:10.1186/1754-6834-2-2Published: 21 January 2009
Enzymatic corn wet milling (E-milling) is a process derived from conventional wet milling for the recovery and purification of starch and co-products using proteases to eliminate the need for sulfites and decrease the steeping time. In 2006, the total starch production in USA by conventional wet milling equaled 23 billion kilograms, including modified starches and starches used for sweeteners and ethanol production . Process engineering and cost models for an E-milling process have been developed for a processing plant with a capacity of 2.54 million kg of corn per day (100,000 bu/day). These models are based on the previously published models for a traditional wet milling plant with the same capacity. The E-milling process includes grain cleaning, pretreatment, enzymatic treatment, germ separation and recovery, fiber separation and recovery, gluten separation and recovery and starch separation. Information for the development of the conventional models was obtained from a variety of technical sources including commercial wet milling companies, industry experts and equipment suppliers. Additional information for the present models was obtained from our own experience with the development of the E-milling process and trials in the laboratory and at the pilot plant scale. The models were developed using process and cost simulation software (SuperPro Designer®) and include processing information such as composition and flow rates of the various process streams, descriptions of the various unit operations and detailed breakdowns of the operating and capital cost of the facility.
Based on the information from the model, we can estimate the cost of production per kilogram of starch using the input prices for corn, enzyme and other wet milling co-products. The work presented here describes the E-milling process and compares the process, the operation and costs with the conventional process.
The E-milling process was found to be cost competitive with the conventional process during periods of high corn feedstock costs since the enzymatic process enhances the yields of the products in a corn wet milling process. This model is available upon request from the authors for educational, research and non-commercial uses.