Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Environmental and Nutritional Benefits of Bioethanol Co-products (ENBBIO) - LK0697


The ENBBIO LINK project is a collaborative 3 year project which started in October 2010, and involves 25 industry and academic partners, sponsored by Defra through the Sustainable Livestock LINK programme.

The use of protein concentrates in livestock feeding is an essential feature of the modern livestock industry. However there has been undue reliance on imported soya as the main protein source which has recently raised environmental concerns relating to land use change and, specifically, the release of carbon from cropping of high carbon stock soils. Although co-products currently used in animal diets are generally of good nutritional value, they are of variable quality depending on raw material source, processing, drying and storage conditions. This variation can lead to reduced digestibility, inefficient uptake of dietary nutrients, reduced livestock performance and increased emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, nitrate and phosphate. Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS), however, provides an opportunity for the UK feed industry to have large quantities of a consistent and high quality co-product that can have a significant positive impact on energy and nutrient utilisation, and to reduce levels of imported proteins. DDGS can arise from a variety of sources including wheat (W-DDGS; bioethanol production) and barley (B-DDGS; fermentation / distillation industry). The goal of replacing imported feedstuffs including soya bean meal requires optimisation of all the processes involved in manufacture to ensure that nutritive value is maximised.

Prior to the establishment of a UK wheat-bioethanol biofuel industry 250 kt/annum of W-DDGS from the distilling industry was used in animal feeds, but supply will increase to 960 kt/annum with the opening of new bioethanol refineries by Ensus and Vivergo during the lifetime of the project, and will increase further if other companies come on stream. The total of 960 kt of W-DDGS contains 307 kt of wheat protein (320 g CP/kg W-DDGS), equivalent to 0.40 of the 770 kt/annum of protein imported via soyabean meal. This quantity of W-DDGS will also supply 8.6 kt of P (9 g P/kg W-DDGS); 0.05 of the P required by UK livestock assuming full bioavailability. Production of W-DDGS on this scale provides opportunities for significant reductions in imported feed materials. Because higher inclusion rates of W-DDGS are expected in UK livestock diets, there is an urgent need for research on nutritional values and effects of dietary inclusion rates of this potentially valuable raw material for all species.

The aim of this research is to quantify sources of variability in W-DDGS, identify opportunities to enhance their value, to consider innovative processes to reduce fibre content (for non-ruminants) and to quantify the contribution of the co-products to the overall GHG balance of UK crop, livestock and ethanol production.

The Objectives are to:

1. Quantify the chemical composition of UK sources of W-DDGS and other co-products including development of appropriate methodologies,

2. Identify the limitations associated with feeding UK sources of W-DDGS in both ruminant and non-ruminant species,

3. Identify routes to improving nutritional value of DDGS through production of consistent products from modern biorefineries, making use of process modifications in the biorefinery, and the use of enzymes to improve animal performance,

4. Test the modified and improved DDGS products using ruminant and non-ruminant species

5. Quantify the overall benefits of DDGS production on reducing diffuse pollutants (methane, N and P), and enhancing home-grown protein production,

6. Ensure effective knowledge transfer of research outputs.

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2014

Cost: £756,185
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Syngenta Seeds UK, AHDB - BPEX, AB Vista Feed Ingredients Ltd, Sciantec Analytical Services Ltd, ADAS UK Ltd., AHDB - EBLEX, University - Manchester, Tulip Supply Group, Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI), AHDB - HGCA, AB Agri Ltd., Evonik Degussa GmbH, Deans Foods Ltd - Egg Products, University - Nottingham, Glencore Grain UK Ltd, Hook2Sisters Ltd, University - Scottish Agricultural College, AHDB _ DairyCo, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Aunir, Brewing Food and Beverage Industry, Premier Nutrition Products Limited, Ensus Ltd, Marks and Spencer plc