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Use enzymes to mill grains.

USDA-ARS scientists are developing enzyme-based techniques that could be used to mill grains and to produce biobased products. Their goal is to create efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable "green" wet- and dry-grind milling technologies that convert corn into inexpensive high-quality starch. This starch would eventually be converted into renewable biobased products.

The scientists are taking a multidisciplinary approach in developing fundamental knowledge and processes for the conversion of agricultural crops and their processing byproducts into value-added food, fuel and non-food biobased products. Enzymatic, chemical, physical, fermentation and other environmentally sustainable processes are being harnessed to convert surplus crops into functional food ingredients, industrial gums, biodegradable materials, renewable fuels and health-promoting nutraceuticals.

Researchers are working on a number of fronts. They are:

* Developing new, alternative methods for corn wet-milling and fractionation using enzymes and other environmentally sustainable processes that maximize the yield of starch for biobased product production while eliminating hazardous processing aids such as sulfites;

* Adapting new alternative processing technologies in order to reduce overall costs for starch and coproducts that will facilitate their use in biobased products; and

* Working with user groups to incorporate new processes into new or existing wet-milling facilities and into new or existing dry-grind ethanol facilities.

The researchers also are working in other related areas. They are developing a new enzymatic corn wet-milling steeping process. The technique should reduce the steep time, reduce SO2 emissions, lower capital and operating costs and enhance the quality and yield of products.

On another front, the investigators intend to create and use new physical, biocatalytic and molecular technologies for the efficient and sustainable "green" extraction and modification of plant polysaccharides. The goal here is to create new biobased industrial products, functional food ingredients and nutraceuticals.

Further information. Kevin Hicks, USDA-ARS Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 E. Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, PA 19038; phone: 215-233-6579; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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