Kernel Fiber Now Cellulosic Ethanol


Since 2017, the growth edge for the U.S. ethanol industry has been the implementation of kernel fiber processing technology and product diversification to include cellulosic ethanol (D3 RINs). Kernel fiber processing technology converts the lowest value component of the corn kernel to a high-value ethanol product. The result is more ethanol from the same bushels of corn and diversification of ethanol products to include higher-value cellulosic gallons.

EcoEngineers has taken a leading role as a renewable energy consultant to expand cellulosic ethanol within the U.S. ethanol industry. The intricacies of measuring kernel fiber passage through a conventional facility producing corn starch ethanol requires deep knowledge of low-carbon fuel regulations, ethanol plant operations, and fuel quality measurements. It also requires managing a stakeholder-driven process to reach consensus on testing methodologies and monitoring systems. Neither the USEPA nor California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) had reviewed and approved a kernel fiber pathway yet, though the regulations allowed it. 

Key Performance

  • Registered separate kernel fiber processing technology with the USEPA, CARB
  • Registered coprocessing kernel fiber technology at three ethanol facilities
  • Developed protocols and trained staff on record keeping and compliance management to track the production of cellulosic gallons within the traditional fermentation process
  • Wrote protocols and secured USEPA approval for a verification system (quality assurance program or QAP) to allow monetization of the carbon credits
  • Performed carbon life-cycle analysis of multiple pathway technologies and producers in CA-GREET and others to arrive at project-specific CI scores
  • Delivered various training and education (EcoUniversity) workshops for key stakeholders on kernel fiber processing, regulatory requirements, and compliance systems

Key Results

  • Kernel fiber ethanol now has a market presence and several approved pathways in both the federal and California low-carbon fuel standards
  • The ethanol industry is able to simultaneously produce more ethanol from the same amount of feedstock, as well as procure more byproducts, such as corn oil and distiller’s grains
  • Project-specific client references available upon request

Services Performed

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