Microfiltration of gluten processing streams from corn wet milling

C. I. Thompson, K. D. Rausch, R. L. Belyea, M. E. Tumbleson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In corn wet milling, dry matter can be separated from liquids in process streams with centrifuges or vacuum belt filtration (VBF). Because separations usually are not complete, dry matter can be lost in the liquid streams (overflow from the gluten thickener centrifuge and filtrate from VBF). This represents a loss of nutrients, especially protein, to low valued coproducts and reduces quality of water for recycling within the process. The objective was to compare microfiltration of light and heavy gluten process streams to conventional separation methods. Batches of light and heavy gluten were obtained from a wet mill plant and processed by microfiltration. Samples of permeate and concentrate from microfiltration were analyzed and compared to corresponding streams from wet milling. Microfiltration of light gluten resulted in concentrate and permeate streams similar in composition to conventionally processed light gluten using a centrifuge, suggesting that microfiltration is as effective as centrifugation in partitioning solids and water in light gluten. Dewatering of heavy gluten found that conventional VBF caused dry matter concentrations in gluten cake to be higher than concentrate from microfiltration. Permeate from microfiltration of heavy gluten had higher concentrations of ash and lower soluble nitrogen than filtrate from VBF. Microfiltration was able to remove more ash from concentrate, which may improve the value of wet milling coproducts. These data demonstrated microfiltration has potential for separation of light and heavy gluten streams, but more data are needed on effectiveness and practicality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Coproducts
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Corn processing
  • Membrane filtration
  • Nutrient composition
  • Wet milling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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