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Separating beer waste into food protein and biofuel fiber

Credit: PIXTA / CC0 public domain

Homebrew enthusiasts and major manufacturers alike experience the same consequences of the beer-making process, the heap of remaining grain. When all flavors have been extracted from barley and other grains, what remains is a protein- and fiber-rich powder, typically used for cattle feed and landfills. Today, scientists are reporting new ways to extract protein and fiber from brewers’ used grains and use them to create new types of protein sources, biofuels, and more.


Researchers will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring Conference.

“There is a significant need in the brewing industry to reduce waste,” said Dr. Haibo Huang, Principal Investigator of the project. His team partnered with a local brewery to find a way to turn the remaining grain into a value-added product.

“Since used grains have a very high percentage of protein compared to other agricultural wastes, our goal was to find a new way to extract and use it,” he presented at the conference. Says Yanhong He, a graduate student who is a student. Huang and he are both at Virginia Tech and State University (Virginia Tech).

Craft beer is more popular than ever in the United States. This increase in demand has led to increased production and a significant increase in brewery waste, 85% of which is spent grain. This by-product is composed of up to 30% protein and up to 70% fiber, and cattle and other animals may be able to digest used grains, but due to their high fiber content, they are digested by humans. Is difficult.

To turn this waste into a more functional one, Huang and He have developed a new wet grinding and sorting process to separate proteins from fibers. Compared to other technologies, the new process is more efficient because researchers do not have to dry the grain first. They tested three commercially available enzymes (alcalase, nutrase, and pepsin) in this process and found that alcalase treatment provided the best separation without losing large amounts of either component. After the sieving step, the result was a product rich in protein concentrate and fiber.

Up to 83% of the protein in used grains was recaptured in the protein concentrate. Initially, researchers suggested using extracted protein as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to fishmeal for feeding farmed shrimp. But recently, Huang and he have begun to seek to use protein as an ingredient in foods to meet consumer demand for alternative protein sources.

However, there were still products that were rich in the remaining fiber, without a specific application. Last year, Huang Postdoc researcher Joshua O’Hair, Ph.D. Is Bacillus lichenformis In the spring of Yellowstone National Park. The paper states that bacteria can convert various sugars into 2,3-butanediol, a compound used in the production of many products such as synthetic rubber, plasticizers, and the fuel 2-butanol. .. Therefore, the extracted fiber was pretreated with sulfuric acid to decompose cellulose and hemicellulose into sugar. She then fed the microbes with sugar to produce 2,3-butanediol.

Next, the team plans to work on scaling up the process of separating protein and fiber components to keep up with the amount of used grain produced at the brewery. They are also working with colleagues to determine the economic feasibility of the separation process due to the high cost of the enzymes currently used to separate protein and fiber components. Huang and He hope to find suitable enzymes and environmentally friendly chemicals to make this process even more sustainable, extensible and affordable.


Food production waste bran can be used as a source of protein and dietary fiber.


For more information:
Abstract Title: Simultaneous production of protein concentrate and 2,3-butanediol from used grains of brewers

Courtesy of the American Chemical Society

Quote: Separation of beer waste into food protein and biofuel fiber (April 6, 2021) April 6, 2021 https://phys.org/news/2021-04-beer-proteins- Obtained from foods-fiber-biofuels.html

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Separating beer waste into food protein and biofuel fiber

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