The United States leads the world in corn production, with an annual corn grind of more than 1.5 billion bushels. Most of the corn refining industry centers around starch, the crop’s most plentiful component, which comprises up to 90% of raw maize material. But once the starch is removed to produce sweetener, the corn germ that remains still contains valuable concentrations of high-quality corn oil.
With the proper oilseed processing system in place, corn milling facilities can squeeze additional profits out of this would-be byproduct by literally squeezing the oil from the germ. But because corn germ can be notoriously tough to process, it requires the right extraction equipment to press oil efficiently to get optimal returns.
Here’s what you need to know about processing corn germ to capitalize on the commercial value of its oil.
Traditional corn germ processing
Whole corn kernels only contain a small amount of fat, around 5% by weight. But the germ that remains after the starch is removed through wet processing can contain up to 50% oil by weight. This produces a high-quality cooking oil—one of the most expensive in the oilseed market, thanks in part to its high smoke point, neutral flavor, and free fatty acid content.
Unfortunately, this valuable oil is trapped inside the hard, abrasive corn germ, which can be tough to crack. Rupturing the germ to release the oil inside requires a high-torque workhorse like the Anderson Duo™ Series Expeller®. Designed for difficult-to-process materials like corn germ, palm kernel, and grapeseed, the Duo’s unique dual-pressing action can reduce residual oils to 5-6% in a single pass. Models of this machine from the 1930s are still operating today, earning the Duo a reputation as the most durable, long-lasting press in the oilseed extraction industry.
However, machines like the Duo can be a more expensive route because they require additional stem vessels upstream to cook and dry the germ before extraction. The steam heating process can be inefficient and energy-draining for facilities. Plus, since the Duo is a relatively smaller machine with a limited capacity, running a large-scale corn milling operation might require significant capital expense.
While the Duo and Super Duo remain the industry standard for processing stubborn oilseeds, Anderson International is constantly exploring new extraction solutions.
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As technologies continue to advance, high-shear extrusion systems may offer a more efficient alternative for extracting oil from wet processed corn germ. Extrusion systems like the Anderson Dox™ Extruder eliminate the need for separate steam heating and drying steps required in traditional stack cooking vessels.
An extrusion system offers multiple benefits to processors, including:
· Increased capacity
· Lower operating costs
· Reduced capital expenditure
· Smaller equipment footprint
The Dox generates heat mechanically to release the oil from the germ, while applying pressure and high temperatures to quickly cook the seeds for easier extraction. By replacing energy-draining steam heat vessels with friction, high-shear extruders eliminate the need for an expensive industrial boiler system—which requires its own specialized technicians, regular maintenance, and other costs.
By combining several processes into one machine, the Dox Extruder can double the capacity of a downstream press, essentially cutting energy usage in half. After extrusion, a screw press like the Anderson Oil Expeller® can extract the oil more efficiently, ultimately extending the equipment’s wear life.
The benefits of extrusion are especially critical when processing oil-rich seeds like corn germ. As the only extruder on the market designed to handle material exceeding 30% oil content, the Dox uses a proprietary drainage cage to capture the oil that would otherwise clog the equipment and slow down the plant.
Still wondering whether the Duo or the Dox is right for you? Contact Anderson for more information about the high-shear extrusion system.