Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, (left) and John Strohl, Fermentation Facility manager, add distillers grains and solubles to the rotary steam-tube dryer system.

Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, (left) and John Strohl, Fermentation Facility manager, add distillers grains and solubles to the rotary steam-tube dryer system.

CCUR Helps Biotechnology Company Develop Enzymes to Improve DDGS

Direvo Industrial Biotechnology GmbH from Cologne, Germany, collaborated with the Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) and the BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF) to test a new enzyme technology that could improve the economics of the dry-grind ethanol and livestock feeding industries.

According to Direvo, its BluZy-D enzymes substantially improve the nutritional value of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) offering a cost effective alternative to corn and soybean meal in broiler production.

DDGS is a co-product of ethanol production and is primarily used as feed for beef and dairy cattle. Feeding DDGS to swine and poultry remains limited, mainly due to its high fiber content and low digestibility. BluZy-D was developed to provide DDGS with high nutritional value for these two industries. The key objective of BluZy-D is to increase fiber digestibility, enhance nutrient absorption and enable higher inclusion rates to reduce feed formulation costs.

Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, (left) and Tze Pin Tan, a student worker, bag the modified DDGS that will be shipped to Direvo.
Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, (left) and Tze Pin Tan, a student worker, bag the modified DDGS that was shipped to Direvo.

Direvo contracted with CCUR to produce DDGS for their initial animal feeding trials and later for their scaled-up trials. A team led by Larry Johnson, director of CCUR and the BCRF, conducted lab-scale and pilot-scale trials to test the effects of the enzyme treatment during ethanol production and prepared samples of enzyme-modified DDGS and unmodified DDGS for comparison purposes.

“The pilot-scale facilities for dry-grind ethanol production at the BCRF and CCUR offered Direvo the opportunity to test a new technology prior to full-scale production,” said Johnson. “The project results have the potential to impact two large Iowa industries.”

For the initial feeding trials, a small amount of DDGS was prepared in CCUR’s pilot plant. CCUR worked with Lincolnway Energy, LLC from Nevada, Iowa, to acquire beer, the product made from fermenting corn grain. The beer was treated with Direvo’s enzyme and processed into ethanol and DDGS. The samples of modified DDGS were used in broiler feeding trials. From these initial trials, Direvo validated the performance of BluZy-D by verifying ethanol process efficiencies and substantially improved nutritional value as compared to commercially available DDGS.

After the initial trials, CCUR was asked to scale up the process for larger broiler feeding trials. The team moved to the BCRF to use the newly installed large pilot-scale ethanol production equipment, which includes a distillation column, an evaporator and a rotary steam-tube dryer system. Modified and unmodified DDGS were prepared and are currently being used in large-scale feeding trials. Direvo will be exploring various industry opportunities as it proceeds in scaling up the technology for commercial operations.