MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US — Kansas State University’s (KSU) grain scientist, Yonghui Li, has been awarded a nearly $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Li, assistant professor in the Department of Grain Science and Industry, will lead the three-year project, “Development of an Innovative Technology for Value-added Production of Antioxidants From Corn Distillers’ Grains.” It seeks to address the critical need to explore new and value-added uses for the 60 million tons of distillers’ grains generated by the corn biofuel industry each year.

The research is aimed at developing technology that enables the production of high-performance antioxidants from corn distillers’ grains and establishing an extension program for the potential adoption of the new technology.

“Through this project, we will develop new technology that utilizes massive biofuel byproducts and adds value to agricultural origin materials,” Li said. “The value-added production of peptide and phenolic antioxidants from distillers’ grains will ultimately enhance the economic viability of fuel ethanol productions from corn and other grain feedstocks.”

The research project is designed to accomplish the following key objectives: extract peptide and phenolic antioxidants from corn distillers’ grains and outreach to stakeholders especially antioxidant producers; evaluate antioxidant performances in food, pet food, and feed systems and outreach to antioxidant end-users; and conduct economic analysis of the new process and outreach to technology adopters and other stakeholders.

“The work funded by this project will support KSU’s research and education goals by providing graduate and undergraduate researchers training in the interdisciplinary areas of grain chemistry, bioprocessing, and techno-economic process and imparting advanced knowledge and hands-on skills for the future workforce,” Li said.

Co-investigators include Carlos Campabadal-Teran and Dan O’Brien, both from KSU; and Haibo Huang, Virginia Tech.