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Novel Materials from Distillers' Grains: A New Window for a Sustainable Bioethanol Industry

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Growing global population, increased energy demand, and depleting petroleum resources; whether these factors pose a challenge for the future depends on the sustainability of today's small but growing alternative energy industries. In this context, biofuel, but especially the corn-based bioethanol industry, has expanded rapidly in recent years. The industry has passed through several ups and downs and new revenue streams must be sought in order to maintain economic viability. The coproducts of ethanol represent excellent candidates for generating new revenues for alternative energy systems. In particular, the focus of this review is on distillers' grains, the major coproducts of the bioethanol and the potential they have to create new value added products that may promote a more sustainable bioethanol industry. Several attempts have already been made to develop novel applications for distillers' grains, alternative to their traditional feed uses, which are discussed briefly herein. More specifically, this review will focus on the role of distillers' grains within materials science and engineering. Although this field is still taking shape, there exist several potential opportunities for using distillers' grains-derived novel materials and distillers' grains polymeric biocomposites. The purpose of this paper is to critically review these opportunities to provide a clearer insight into the future of this industry.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: August 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • The goal of the creation of a biobased economy is challenging to agriculture, forestry, academia, government and industry. The extractable resources of the Earth are finite, regardless of the quibble over when they will be depleted. The economic, political and social demands for biobased chemicals, materials and energy are expected to radically transform the materials industries, particularly the plastics industry as well as the biofuel industry. These changes will be based on the principles of sustainability, eco-efficiency, industrial ecology, and green chemistry and engineering. In keeping with the growth of knowledge in this field, there is a strong need for a forum to share original research related to biobased materials and bioenergy. The Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy (JBMB) has been created as an international peer-reviewed periodical to fulfill the need for communication in these research areas. This journal will encompass related research activities in all fields of science, engineering and the life sciences.
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