Biodegradable Films: Value Adding to Corn Byproducts

Biodegradable Films: Value Adding to Corn Byproducts2018-10-04T12:53:49+00:00

Corn bran and DDG are produced in large quantities as byproducts of corn and ethanol processing. Corn bran and DDG are composed of cellulose, protein, starch, lipid, minerals, and arabinoxylan (AX). These fractions can be utilized for various value added food and industrial applications, such as food packaging materials. In 2015, 5200 million bushels of corn was used for ethanol and DDG production. One bushel of corn can provide 17.5 lb of DDG. Corn milling byproducts such as DDG are primarily used for feed. In 2010, American maize distilleries yielded more than 34 million tons of corn distiller’s grain. By 2020, US corn distillers grain are estimated to be about 38.6 million tons. Difference between corn price & value of co-products in 2016 was $2.05 which was only $1.47 in 2015. Thus, expanding the array of products for corn byproducts that expand beyond feed is highly encouraged to add value to these byproducts.

Food packing must be aesthetically pleasing and mechanically appropriate for storing the food for which it is specified. Some of the required qualities include protecting food from oxidation, microbial spoilage, physical damage, and also increasing shelf life. Synthetic food packaging materials are popular due to their barrier properties. However, use of synthetic packaging materials has resulted in ecological problems, since they may not biodegradable or recyclable. With increased research focused on biodegradable food packaging, it is becoming clear that plant-based food packaging is one option for food packaging. It would be beneficial to incorporate materials obtained from the byproducts of the corn milling and ethanol processing industries into the food packaging sector. Someday it would be ecologically advantageous to replace synthetic food packaging with AX packaging due to the ecological advantages

AX was extracted from corn bran and DDG using a method that was developed for commercial upscale, and is effective for AX extraction and purification. AX was used as the basis for films having a wide range of functional properties. To increase the flexibility of these films, they were plasticized with glycerol or sorbitol. The chemical, physical, mechanical, and biodegradability characteristics were also determined, which provides a comprehensive materials profile for each type of film. These materials profiles can be used to match a food with proper packaging.