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Ethan Wiegle, CCUR pilot plant assistant manager, prepares containers to collect sorghum wet cake from the decanter centrifuge.

Ethan Wiegle, CCUR pilot plant assistant manager, prepares containers to collect sorghum wet cake from the decanter centrifuge.

Pilot Plant Update

Hui Wang, Pilot Plant Manager


The Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) was contracted by a Midwest food processor to test centrifugation treatments on their feedstock. The objective was to find an efficient way to separate the liquid and solid fractions in the material. A tubular and a 3-phase decanter centrifuge were used to test various treatment setups. The results provided the client with valuable references for their scale-up endeavors.

Ceres Management, Inc., a Kansas-based agricultural consulting company, contracted CCUR to conduct another downstream processing of sorghum whole stillage derived from fuel ethanol fermentation. The wet cake (solids) and thin stillage (liquid) were separated by the pilot-scale Centrisys decanter centrifuge. The wet cake contained approximately 28 percent dry matter, close to its counterpart from commercial production. The objective of the project was to simulate commercial downstream processing, producing a wet cake with new properties for drying testing. Fermentation of the sorghum material was conducted by the CCUR Fermentation Facility.

An ultra-high temperature pasteurization project was carried out in the CCUR wet pilot plant for an Iowa company that conducts research on nutritional supplements. The objective was to investigate if the client's proprietary solutions could endure simulated pasteurization conditions similar to commercial applications. Two liquid samples were successfully treated. The samples will be analyzed in the client's facility to see if the pasteurization has a negative impact on the active ingredient in the proprietary solutions.

The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute (MGWII) is conducting research on the varietal aroma characteristics of La Crescent grapes and wine. La Crescent is a cold-hardy white wine grape grown in the Midwest. MGWII staff used a crusher destemmer in CCUR's wet processing pilot plant to process La Crescent grapes prior to fermentation. The La Crescent grapes used in this project were grown at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station north of Ames. The project is led by Somchai Rice, a food science and human nutrition (FSHN) assistant scientist. Jennie Savits, a FSHN field specialist, and Chelsea Nelson, a FSHN student and lab assistant, assisted Rice in the pilot plant.

CCUR helped Isaac Agbemafle, a FSHN graduate student, grind two Solanum torvum (turkey berry) samples acquired from Africa and India to the desired fineness for iron bioavailability studies. Due to small amounts and the unique compositions of the samples, various mills were tested, including a burr mill, a high-speed blender and an impact mill before a suitable milling method was identified. Manju Reddy, a professor of FSHN, is the lead investigator for this project.

CCUR Visitors

CCUR had the following visitors: Jilin Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Michael Foods; National Institute of Agriculture Technology (INTA), Argentina; Sichuan Provicial Delegation; and USDA SBIR Program.

Jennie Savits, a FSHN field specialist, (right) and Chelsea Nelson, a FSHN student and lab assistant, crush and de-stem grapes in the wet processing pilot plant.

Jennie Savits, a FSHN field specialist, (right) and Chelsea Nelson, a FSHN student and lab assistant, crush and de-stem grapes in the wet processing pilot plant.