291822 Refinement of a Bench-Scale Corn-to-Ethanol Process Suitable for Introductory Laboratories

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Samantha M. Steffens and John J. Krupczak Jr., Engineering, Hope College, Holland, MI

A bench-scale method has been developed to produce ethanol from dried corn kernels using a process that is analogous to industrial methods of production but suitable for use in an undergraduate introduction to engineering laboratory. The procedure is based on common inexpensive and readily obtained materials, can be carried out successfully by first year students with little prior chemical engineering background, requires no special facilities other than a fume hood, and results in reliable ethanol yields in the range of 20 percent. The process mimics the industrial dry-milling ethanol production procedure. The procedure utilizes household cooking equipment and is based on quantities of materials on the order of one liter in volume. The resulting distillate averages 80 percent alcohol content. The procedure can be completed in two laboratory periods of 3 hours a week apart. Adaptations were developed to improve the bench-scale process. The corn kernels were boiled at the beginning which was found to eliminate rancid odors that developed during fermentation. Rather than dry grinding, the mixture of corn kernels and water was blended in a household blender.  This was found to significantly increase process yields from an average of 8 percent to 20 percent.

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