Hydrothermal carbonization of distiller's grains

Steven M. Heilmann, Lindsey R. Jader, Michael J Sadowsky, Frederick J Schendel, Marc G. von Keitz, Kenneth J. Valentas

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127 Scopus citations


Wet distiller's grains are intermediate byproducts of ethanol manufacture that have high moisture contents and require significant energy for drying and conversion into dry distiller's grains. Hydrothermal carbonization was investigated as a wet process to provide alternative products, and chars were obtained in moderate yield that possessed high heats of combustion. The mechanism of char formation was also investigated employing constituent materials representative of the chemical composition of distiller's grains. Char formation was discovered to chiefly involve carbohydrates (other than cellulose) and proteins. A surprising discovery was that triacylglycerides and fatty acids created under the reaction conditions did not contribute to char yield and were adsorbed onto the chars and could be easily extracted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2526-2533
Number of pages8
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial assistance was provided by the BioTechnology Institute of the University of Minnesota and the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) and is gratefully acknowledged. Dr. Kannan Seshadri of 3M is also thanked for plotting the data for the designed experiment. Mr. Timothy Montgomery provided valuable assistance with some of the figures and tables. Mr. Nicholas Hahn also provided much needed assistance with preparation of microemulsified materials.


  • Char formation
  • Distiller's grains
  • Hydrothermal carbonization
  • Hydrothermolysis
  • Thermal Hydrolysis


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