A $2.4 million (€2.4m) research grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) will allow the National Corn Growers Association, Archer Daniels Midland and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to continue collaborating to explore new markets for corn.
The aim of the research is to convert corn fibre into higher value products, and to consequently open up new markets for corn growers. Under the agreement, the partners hope to obtain high-value chemicals and oils from lower value corn fibre.
The project, in total valued at $4.86 million, will encompass the purification and characterisation of trace amounts of chemicals to design and construct a pilot plant capable of recovering high-value carbohydrates at a production level.
Rene Shunk, project manager and NCGA director of research and business development, said: "The fibre utilisation project could significantly reduce the volume of high-fibre feed products."
"That in turn will help the entire ethanol and bioproducts industry. By creating more value for the fibre, the profitability of the ethanol process is improved."
The anticipated rise in demand for ethanol will result in an oversupply of feed byproducts from corn processing plants. Charles Abbas, ADM's project coordinator, added: "Processing of corn fibre from corn wet-mills to higher value products is essential to expanding corn wet-mills and to maintaining profitability of our industry. DOE's support for this project as a part of the US focus on biobased products from renewables is indispensable to the further expansion of corn biorefineries."
The National Corn Growers Association represents more than 32,000 members and 25 affiliated state corn grower organisations. Archer Daniels Midland is one of the world's largest processors of soybeans, corn, wheat and cocoa.