Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Shredding Corn Silage Could Produce More Ethanol At Less Cost

Date:
March 9, 2009
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
A researcher has found a way to get more bang for fewer bucks when it comes to processing cellulosic material to make ethanol. By shredding corn stover instead of chopping, as is commonly done, about 40 percent less energy is needed to gain access to more of the material stored in the plant.

Dennis Buckmaster, in foreground, and research assistant Bart Coffman found that shredding corn plant residue, know as stover, rather than chopping, may provide easier access to the cellulosic matter used to produce ethanol.
Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell

A Purdue University researcher has found a way to get more bang for fewer bucks when it comes to processing cellulosic material to make ethanol.

By shredding corn stover instead of chopping, as is commonly done, about 40 percent less energy is needed to gain access to more of the material stored in the plant. Dennis Buckmaster, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said that by shredding corn stover there is better access to cellulose, which is the main part of plant cell walls necessary to make ethanol.

"You can't just use a big chunk of cellulosic material. You need small particles," Buckmaster said. "What we want is access to what's in there."

Using a technique employed in food processing and other industries to measure cell damage, Buckmaster put chopped and shredded corn stalks in water and compared the amount of leachates in each solution. A leachate is any plant substance that is dissolved out of a plant or soil when it is placed in water.

According to Buckmaster's results, shredded corn stalks produced about 11 percent more leachates than chopped and 5 percent more than stalks that had been chopped and put through a roller. Buckmaster said those differences are all the more impressive when considering the energy savings tied to shredding, giving ethanol makers potentially more cellulose for less cost.

Buckmaster said that shredding corn stalks increases the surface area of the plant material. And because stalks can be shredded along the grain of the plants, like splitting a log with an ax, it takes less energy. The current chopping method, he said, is like putting the log on its side and trying to chop it with the same axe.

"It takes much less force to shear the plant material in the direction of the fibers," Buckmaster said.

Plants can be chopped again after storage to increase surface area, but that would raise energy costs beyond what is already spent at harvest, he said.

Shredding corn stalks produced pieces of different sizes, but even the largest pieces of shredded material produced about as many leachates as the smallest shredded pieces. When comparing the chopped materials, the largest pieces produced fewer leachates than the smallest pieces.

"The shredded material, even with the long particles, gives you more access to plant nutrients," Buckmaster said. "You can use chopping to reduce the size of particles, but that takes more energy and is not as efficient as shredding at harvest."

Buckmaster's study was published in the last 2008 edition of Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. His research was funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

Buckmaster said the next step in his research is to compare shredded and chopped cellulosic material to see which produces more ethanol. He also is working to design machinery that can be used by farmers to shred plant materials during harvest instead of using current chopping mechanisms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Shredding Corn Silage Could Produce More Ethanol At Less Cost." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221541.htm>.
Purdue University. (2009, March 9). Shredding Corn Silage Could Produce More Ethanol At Less Cost. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221541.htm
Purdue University. "Shredding Corn Silage Could Produce More Ethanol At Less Cost." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221541.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins