Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


David R Shonnard


This Ph.D. research is comprised of three major components; (i) Characterization study to analyze the composition of defatted corn syrup (DCS) from a dry corn mill facility (ii) Hydrolysis experiments to optimize the production of fermentable sugars and amino acid platform using DCS and (iii) Sustainability analyses. Analyses of DCS included total solids, ash content, total protein, amino acids, inorganic elements, starch, total carbohydrates, lignin, organic acids, glycerol, and presence of functional groups. Total solids content was 37.4% (± 0.4%) by weight, and the mass balance closure was 101%. Total carbohydrates [27% (± 5%) wt.] comprised of starch (5.6%), soluble monomer carbohydrates (12%) and non-starch carbohydrates (10%). Hemicellulose components (structural and non-structural) were; xylan (6%), xylose (1%), mannan (1%), mannose (0.4%), arabinan (1%), arabinose (0.4%), galatactan (3%) and galactose (0.4%). Based on the measured physical and chemical components, bio-chemical conversion route and subsequent fermentation to value added products was identified as promising. DCS has potential to serve as an important fermentation feedstock for bio-based chemicals production.

In the sugar hydrolysis experiments, reaction parameters such as acid concentration and retention time were analyzed to determine the optimal conditions to maximize monomer sugar yields while keeping the inhibitors at minimum. Total fermentable sugars produced can reach approximately 86% of theoretical yield when subjected to dilute acid pretreatment (DAP). DAP followed by subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis was most effective for 0 wt% acid hydrolysate samples and least efficient towards 1 and 2 wt% acid hydrolysate samples. The best hydrolysis scheme DCS from an industry's point of view is standalone 60 minutes dilute acid hydrolysis at 2 wt% acid concentration.

The combined effect of hydrolysis reaction time, temperature and ratio of enzyme to substrate ratio to develop hydrolysis process that optimizes the production of amino acids in DCS were studied. Four key hydrolysis pathways were investigated for the production of amino acids using DCS. The first hydrolysis pathway is the amino acid analysis using DAP. The second pathway is DAP of DCS followed by protein hydrolysis using proteases [Trypsin, Pronase E (Streptomyces griseus) and Protex 6L]. The third hydrolysis pathway investigated a standalone experiment using proteases (Trypsin, Pronase E, Protex 6L, and Alcalase) on the DCS without any pretreatment. The final pathway investigated the use of Accellerase 1500® and Protex 6L to simultaneously produce fermentable sugars and amino acids over a 24 hour hydrolysis reaction time.

The 3 key objectives of the techno-economic analysis component of this PhD research included; (i) Development of a process design for the production of both the sugar and amino acid platforms with DAP using DCS (ii) A preliminary cost analysis to estimate the initial capital cost and operating cost of this facility (iii) A greenhouse gas analysis to understand the environmental impact of this facility. Using Aspen Plus®, a conceptual process design has been constructed. Finally, both Aspen Plus Economic Analyzer® and Simapro® sofware were employed to conduct the cost analysis as well as the carbon footprint emissions of this process facility respectively.

Another section of my PhD research work focused on the life cycle assessment (LCA) of commonly used dairy feeds in the U.S. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis was conducted for cultivation, harvesting, and production of common dairy feeds used for the production of dairy milk in the U.S. The goal was to determine the carbon footprint [grams CO2 equivalents (gCO2e)/kg of dry feed] in the U.S. on a regional basis, identify key inputs, and make recommendations for emissions reduction. The final section of my Ph.D. research work was an LCA of a single dairy feed mill located in Michigan, USA. The primary goal was to conduct a preliminary assessment of dairy feed mill operations and ultimately determine the GHG emissions for 1 kilogram of milled dairy feed.