FWS Technologies develops fractionation system

By | October 26, 2006
A Canadian company is marketing a dry-corn fractionation system for the front end of ethanol plants. At press time, the company expected to receive final confirmation of its patent in December, according to Glen Foster, process engineer for FWS Technologies, a division of FWS Construction Ltd.

Foster began developing the fractionation system about four years ago. A friend asked Foster to help him reduce natural gas costs at an ethanol plant and, after some investigation, Foster started looking into fractionation systems, he told EPM.

At that time, however, most corn fractionation was done on a small scale and for human consumption. Wet fractionation systems were very expensive. "That's when we decided to build our own system," Foster said.

The company has tested its fractionation system in a pilot plant at its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Fermentation testing has been conducted at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Center and in a lab at a separate ethanol plant. "We think we have a good system," Foster said.

Starch loss with the fractionation system is less than 5 percent of total available starch. The germ fraction is about 8 percent of the total kernel weight, and the bran fraction is about 6 percent, he said. Though some water is added at the front end, it is driven off during the process.

The FWS Technologies system only removes about half the oil from the corn kerneland for good reason, Foster said. Removing all the oil can result in stuck or "sluggish" fermentation. Also, removing too much oil affects the distillers dried grains. "Then it becomes difficult to get it into the hog or a broiler chicken diet because the energy is too low," he said.

The system costs about one-third or half the amount of other fractionation systems out there. "We believe that our fractionation system is the best bang for the buck," Foster said.