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Research Foundation

Granule Swelling and Starch Saccharification

Reference Number: 13-28

Inventors: Zhaofeng Li and Yong-Cheng Shi


Ethanol is the most popular renewable liquid transportation fuel that is primarily used in automobiles and other light-duty vehicles. The rising global demand for renewable energy increases the importance of ethanol production worldwide. Currently, the production of ethanol is broken down into four stages: fermentation, distillation, dehydration, and denaturing. Prior to fermentation corn starches have to be broken down into sugars through a process called saccharification. Given the rise in demand for ethanol and its costly production process, Kansas State University researchers have discovered a way to obtain higher yields of ethanol while reducing the use of expensive enzymes (i.e. granular starch hydrolyzing enzymes) through the saccharification process.

This concept of more efficient ethanol production is enabled through a heat pretreatment process of the corn starch at early stages of the enzymatic reaction. This heat pretreatment method converts starches into glucose at an earlier stage than traditionally known process, creating partially swollen starch granules that enhance the saccharification process. Furthermore, heat pretreatment can potentially benefit the fermentation process while reducing the amount of granular starch hydrolyzing enzyme that is currently needed to sustain ethanol production.


  • Lower production & input costs
  • Beneficial to fermentation of ethanol
  • More efficient enzyme reactions


  • Enhancement of starch saccharification by granular starch hydrolysis enzymes
  • Efficient method for producing higher yields of ethanol

Patent Status

  • Provisional patent application filed in December 2013.

Kansas State University Research Foundation seeks to have discussions with companies that are interested in licensing and/or research collaborations.

Interested parties should contact:

Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC)
2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, KS 66502
Tel: 785-532-3900 Fax: 785-532-3909
E-Mail: ic@k-state.edu