Analysis and prediction of unreacted starch content in corn using FT-NIR spectroscopy

B. M. Plumier, M. C. Danao, V. Singh, K. D. Rausch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When corn is processed in a conventional dry-grind ethanol process, a portion of the corn starch is not readily converted into ethanol. The amount of unconverted, or unreacted, starch varies according to several factors, including storage time and processing conditions. The current method for determining the amount of unreacted starch is based on an enzyme assay, which is time-consuming and does not lend itself to on-line measurements of corn in processing plants. A rapid method for determining the unreacted starch in corn would be advantageous so that the mix of enzymes and processing conditions could be adjusted to ensure maximum ethanol yield. In this study, we demonstrated the feasibility of using Fourier transform near-infrared (FT-NIR) spectroscopy in developing predictive models of unreacted starch in corn. FT-NIR spectra of corn starch blends and ground corn from 4000 to 10000 cm-1 were calibrated against unreacted starch content, determined enzymatically, using various spectral preprocessing techniques such as multiplicative scatter correction (MSC), Savitzky-Golay (SG) derivative algorithms, and partial least squares regression (PLSR). Results showed that the unreacted starch content in blends can be predicted with a low root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) ranging from 1.29% to 1.95%, a coefficient of regression (R2) of 0.97 to 0.98, and a ratio of performance to deviation (RPD) of 4.82 to 7.28. PLS regression models for unreacted starch content in dry and wet ground corn were equally promising, with low RMSEP values of 1.13% to 2.23%, R 2 values of 0.83 and 0.94, and RPD values of 1.55 to 2.16. These models are a valuable tool for high-throughput monitoring of unreacted starch during corn storage, handling, and processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1877-1884
Number of pages8
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Bioprocessing
  • Dry-grind ethanol
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Partial least squares

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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