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Agricultural engineering students Sam Clark (left) and Brendan Hageman (center) explain to Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, how the sensors will work on the CPM pellet mill. 
Agricultural engineering students Sam Clark (left) and Brendan Hageman (center) explain to Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, how the new sensors will work on the CPM pellet mill. 

Pilot Plant Update

Hui Wang, Pilot Plant Manager


CCUR Completes a Fermentation and Downstream Processing Project for Startup Company

A fermentation and downstream processing project was successfully carried out in the Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) Fermentation Facility and Pilot Plants for a startup company located in the Midwest. A slurry composed of filamentous biomass was produced in the Fermentation Facility. That work successfully demonstrated scaled cultivation of the proprietary organism and medium. Approximately 200 liters of fermentation broth were prepared to test the dewatering, drying and milling of the biomass. The objective was to find a downstream processing method that could be scaled up for commercial production. A pilot-scale continuous centrifuge, a drum dryer and an impact mill were tested with positive results. Data and samples were delivered to the client for further evaluations. The completion of the project gave the client confidence to pursue larger fermentation operations.

Feed Energy Company Uses Pellet Mill to Test Feed Pellet Durability

Feed Energy Company, an Iowa-based company that supplies animal feed with naturally formulated fats and oils for livestock producers, recently contracted with CCUR to make five feed pellet samples using the pilot-scale CPM pellet mill. The durability of the pellets, which is one of the key characteristics of feed pellets, was quantified onsite using a Holmen NHP100 Pellet Durability Tester. The objective was to test the materials' pelleting feasibility with different formulations.

ABE Senior Capstone Team Improving Performance of CCUR's Pellet Mills

A Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE) Senior Capstone team is improving two CPM lab pellet mills located in CCUR's Dry Processing Pilot Plant. The team is outfitting the pellet mills with sensors to measure different operation parameters including die speed, die temperature, belt slip, mash temperature, mash moisture and current of the motor. The sensors are wired to a data acquisition board and tied into an interface program to display information in real-time. Batches of corn meal were pelletized to calibrate the sensors. The pellet mills will be used for feed manufacturing research by students in TSM 455/555 Feed Processing and Technology. The students will be able to adjust and change the parameters in order to create the optimal pellet.

Members of the capstone team are Maddie Tusha, Brendan Hageman, Sam Clark and Ethan Hill. They are seniors in agricultural engineering. Sam Cook, a lecturer in ABE, is the Senior Capstone team mentor and the instructor for TSM 455/555.

Clark and Research Team Working on a Pasteurized Process Cheese Food Project

Stephanie Clark, professor of food science and human nutrition and CCUR affiliate, along with visiting scientist, Seung Yong Lim, and assistant scientist, Maria-Barbara Mora-Garcia, are trying to blend an underutilized dairy by-product into American cheese. Clark’s team is using equipment in CCUR's Wet Processing Pilot Plant to make a pasteurized process cheese food (PPCF). Unlike pasteurized process cheese (PPC), PPCF allows the inclusion of whey. Clark’s team is incorporating whey permeate, a low-value by-product of the cheese industry that contains a high amount of lactose, into PPCF.  The problem with incorporating a high-lactose product into PPCF is that lactose crystallization is likely, producing a cheese with a sandy texture. The team is investigating ways to effectively incorporate this ingredient into PPCF by manipulating emulsifying salts and pH to minimize the proliferation of lactose crystals.

Left photo: Stephanie Clark (right), Seung Yong Lim (center) and Maria-Barbara Mora-Garcia (left) shred large blocks of cheddar cheese. Right photo: A view of molten pasteurized process cheese food in the kettle.

Left photo: Stephanie Clark (right), Seung Yong Lim (center) and Maria-Barbara Mora-Garcia (left) shred large blocks of cheddar cheese. Right photo: A view of molten pasteurized process cheese food in the kettle.