Evaporator Fouling Tendencies of Thin Stillage and Concentrates From the Dry Grind Process

Ravi K. Challa, Yizhe B. Zhang, David B. Johnston, Vijay Singh, Nicki J. Engeseth, Mike Tumbleson, Kent D. Rausch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the United States, more than 200 maize processing plants use multiple-effect evaporators to remove water from thin stillage and steepwater during dry grind and wet milling processes, respectively. During the dry grind process, unfermentables are centrifuged and the liquid fraction, thin stillage, is concentrated in multiple effect evaporators. Evaporator fouling occurs during thin stillage concentration and may be from deposition of proteins, fat, fiber, and/or carbohydrates on evaporator surfaces. Studies on evaporator fouling from maize processing streams are limited and fundamental causes are not well understood. Therefore, the overall objective was to investigate effects of compositional variation on evaporator fouling during thin stillage concentration. Effects of total solids during evaporator concentration, removal of post fermentation oil, corn oil and glycerol addition, and overall plant operation were studied. Thin stillage had lower fouling rates compared to evaporator concentrates. Addition of postfermentation corn oil (0.5 to 1.0% added) increased thin stillage fouling rates, but at higher oil concentration (1.5% added), rates decreased. At 10% solids content in evaporator concentrates, oil recovery had no influence on fouling rates. Glycerol addition (1%) to thin stillage increased fouling rates. Simultaneous plant shutdown and evaporator cleaning decreased subsequent fouling rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-752
Number of pages10
JournalHeat Transfer Engineering
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - May 24 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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