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J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):1508-26. doi: 10.1021/jf103512z. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Chemical composition of distillers grains, a review.

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Grain Chemistry and Utilization Laboratory, National Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture , 1691 South 2700 West, Aberdeen, Idaho 83210, United States.

Erratum in

  • J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Dec 5;60(48):12064.


In recent years, increasing demand for ethanol as a fuel additive and decreasing dependency on fossil fuels have resulted in a dramatic increase in the amount of grains used for ethanol production. Dry-grind is the major process, resulting in distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as a major coproduct. Like fuel ethanol, DDGS has quickly become a global commodity. However, high compositional variation has been the main problem hindering its use as a feed ingredient. This review provides updated information on the chemical composition of distillers grains in terms of nutrient levels, changes during dry-grind processing, and causes for large variation. The occurrence in grain feedstock and the fate of mycotoxins during processing are also covered. During processing, starch is converted to glucose and then to ethanol and carbon dioxide. Most other components are relatively unchanged but concentrated in DDGS about 3-fold over the original feedstock. Mycotoxins, if present in the original feedstock, are also concentrated. Higher fold of increases in S, Na, and Ca are mostly due to exogenous addition during processing, whereas unusual changes in inorganic phosphorus (P) and phytate P indicate phytate hydrolysis by yeast phytase. Fermentation causes major changes, but other processing steps are also responsible. The causes for varying DDGS composition are multiple, including differences in feedstock species and composition, process methods and parameters, the amount of condensed solubles added to distiller wet grains, the effect of fermentation yeast, and analytical methodology. Most of them can be attributed to the complexity of the dry-grind process itself. It is hoped that information provided in this review will improve the understanding of the dry-grind process and aid in the development of strategies to control the compositional variation in DDGS.

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