Iowa State University scientists have used mold to convert corn fiber into ethanol, suggesting corn milling byproducts might become another source of fuel.
Tony Pometto, a food science and human nutrition professor, said the mold successfully converted corn fiber that’s typically used for animal feed. The discovery could boost ethanol production by about 4 percent, or 160 million gallons a year, said Hans van Leeuwen, an Iowa State professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering.
“I believe this is a breakthrough,” said van Leeuwen, the leader of the research project. “But I also want to caution that we need to do a lot more research.”
Van Leeuwen said the next step is to see how the process works on distillers’ dried grains, a byproduct of the dry milling process that’s typically used to convert corn kernels into ethanol.
The research project is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Iowa Biotechnology Byproducts Consortium, the Iowa Energy Center and the ethanol industry.
In addition to van Leeuwen and Pometto, the research team includes Samir Khanal, an Iowa State research assistant professor, and Iowa State graduate students Mary Rasmussen and Prachand Shrestha.
Source: Soyatech.com June 01, 2006.