Researchers examine separation of beer waste for protein as food and fiber for biofuels for human use

Industry Insights

In brewing beer, both large manufacturers and home enthusiasts experience the same result of heaps of leftover grain. Once the entire flavor from barley and other grains is extracted, a powder rich in protein and fiber is left, which typically is either used in cattle feed or dumped in landfills.

Following extensive research, scientists have found a new way to extract fiber and protein from the leftover grain, and use it to create new types of biofuels, protein sources and more.

The finding of the study is scheduled to be presented at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society.

β€œIn fact, in the brewing industry, there is a critical need to reduce waste,” stated the principal investigator of the project. To undertake the study, the team associated with local breweries to devise a way to convert leftover grain into value-added products.

Importantly, the used grain has a very high proportion of protein in comparison to other agricultural waste, hence, aroused the interest of researchers to find a new way to extract and use it.

Meanwhile, interestingly, in the U.S., brewing of craft beer has become more popular than any time before. To serve this ever-increasing demand, production has ramped up, resulting in major uptick in waster material generation from breweries, of which, 85% is used grain. These used grain contain up to 70% fiber and 30% protein, which cows and other animals may be able to digest, but unable for humans to do so because of the fiber content.

Therefore, in a bid to convert this waste into something more functional, the researchers developed a wet milling fractionation process to segregate the protein from the fiber.

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