story to find out more.
Chemical engineer Jhanel Wilson and agricultural
engineer Rolando Flores mill barley kernels into starch-enriched fractions for
ethanol production and low-starch fractions for food and feed. Click the
image for more information about it.
New Varieties and Techniques Make Barley Better for
By Jim Core
July 12, 2005
Barley could be an alternative source
of grain for ethanol producers who can't afford to ship corn from the Midwest
to their processing plants in the eastern and western states. That's according
to Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists who are studying different types of barley and processing methods
for producing ethanol from this grain crop.
Barley grows well in eastern and western states, according to researchers at
the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC)
in Wyndmoor, Pa. But low starch content in most barley varieties--50-55 percent
compared to corn's 72 percent--results in lower ethanol yield.
So the scientists are helping to create new barley varieties with higher
starch content to solve this problem. They're looking at malt, hulled and
hull-less barley suitable for growers in various parts of the country.
Barley hulls are very abrasive and cause expensive wear and tear on grain
handling and milling equipment. Removing the hull and other nonstarch
components of the kernel before fermentation for ethanol would greatly improve
the ethanol process.
Along with having lower starch content than corn, barley also contains a
polysaccharide, called beta-glucan, which makes barley mash too sticky to mix,
ferment and distill economically, according to
Hicks, research leader of ERRC's
Conversion Science and Engineering Research Unit.
ARS researchers are developing new milling processes to remove beta-glucans
before fermentation. They're also studying methods to separate low-starch
barley kernels into a starch-enriched stream for efficient ethanol production.
Among the barley varieties under study, several Virginia hull-less lines
look promising. Hull-less varieties lose their hulls during harvesting, have
higher starch and protein, and are lower in fiber than hulled varieties.
more about the research in the July 2005 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.