Purdue University researchers have found proof in the pudding of a new way to dry ethanol.
The current industry practice for absorbing the water that is part of the ethanol production process after fermentation is to use corn grits. But the Purdue study found that the shape and structure of tapioca pearls make them more ideal for the job, not to mention that they are environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. Tests using tapioca collected about 34 percent more water than corn. “While corn grits are solid, irregularly shaped particles, tapioca pearls contain a gelatin starch core upon which dry starch granules are aggregated, significantly increasing surface area,” according to the researchers.
The researchers believe that U.S. ethanol plants would benefit from using tapioca pearls for drying, but the discovery may be more important for facilities in South America and Africa where the plant used to create tapioca – cassava – is grown.