Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

2-20-08

Contacts:

Jay-Lin Jane, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-9892, jjane@iastate.edu

Nathan Schock, POET Energy, (605) 965-6428, nathan.schock@poetenergy.com

Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704, kuester@iastate.edu

Iowa State researcher seeks to improve efficiency of ethanol process

AMES, Iowa -- A research collaboration between Iowa State University professor Jay-lin Jane and POET Energy is hoping to find starches to further improve the efficiency of POET's patent-pending BPX™ process.

The BPX process uses raw starch hydrolysis that converts starch to sugar and then ferments to ethanol without the use of heat. It is used in 20 of POET's 22 ethanol production facilities. The benefits of the process include reduced energy costs, increased ethanol yields, increased nutrient quality in the feed co-products and decreased plant emissions.

"Our collaboration with Jay-lin Jane is intended to extend the performance of our patent-pending BPX process to provide a greater yield of ethanol per bushel of corn without the need for cooking," said Mark Stowers, vice president of research and development at POET. "By understanding the starch structure and methods of processing starch, we expect to be able to target further increases in ethanol yield per bushel, reductions in energy required and improvements to the quality of distillers grains."

"There are differences between the starches in different lines of corn," Jane said. "Starches are made different, and we are trying to identify which lines of corn starches are more easily hydrolyzed by the enzyme and the mechanism of enzyme hydrolysis of uncooked cornstarch."

Hydrolyzing the cornstarch is breaking it down to glucose.

The best starch needs to break down more easily. Jane has found that starches with certain molecular and granular structures work best.

"Some starches are loosely packed in the granule and can be hydrolyzed easily," said Jane. "While others, especially those with different crystalline structures, will be difficult for the enzyme to hydrolyze."

Once the right starches are found, POET will use that knowledge to further optimize its BPX process.

The research collaboration received additional support through a grant from the state's Grow Iowa Values Fund, which seeks to create high quality jobs through business development and expansion.

South Dakota-based POET Energy has biorefining plants in Coon Rapids, Corning, Emmetsburg, Gowrie, Hanlontown and Jewell, Iowa.

Other researchers working on the project are Charles Hurburgh, professor in food science and human nutrition; Anthony Pometto III, professor in food science and human nutrition; Lawrence Johnson, professor in food science and human nutrition; and Jacek Koziel, associate professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering.

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Quick look

ISU researcher Ja-lin Jane is studying starches to get more yield and efficiency during the ethanol process.

Quote

"Our collaboration with Jay-lin Jane is intended to extend the performance of our patent-pending BPX process to provide a greater yield of ethanol per bushel of corn without the need for cooking. By understanding the starch structure and methods of processing starch, we expect to be able to target further increases in ethanol yield per bushel, reductions in energy required and improvements to the quality of distillers grains."

Mark Stowers, vice president of research and development at POET