Innovation projects

ValBran - Valorization of wheat bran in surfactants

In early 2017, the Interreg project Valbran started (Valorisation of Wheat Bran - Valorisation of wheat bran). In this 4-year project, together with Northern French, Walloon and Flemish partners, it will be investigated how the valorisation of wheat bran in surfactants (which find their application in detergents, cosmetics and phytosanitary products) can be achieved through green chemistry. Wheat bran is the vegetable, protective casing of wheat grains. This by-product is produced in abundant quantity when wheat is ground into flour. Wheat bran is mainly used in animal feed and food.

The aim of the project is the production of vegetable surfactants via green chemistry, which involves an enzymatic treatment of the wheat bran. The developed surfactants are thus biodegradable and therefore harmless to people and the environment, in contrast to the classic surfactants that are based on petrochemical ingredients. The initial starting point of this treatment of wheat bran with enzymes was that a residual product 'wheat bran' enriched with proteins could be created, which has even more added value for their application in animal feed. After all, the use of enzymes boils down to the use of proteins, so there was a chance that the residual fraction of wheat bran obtained was enriched in proteins. Therefore, early 2020 analyzes on these residual wheat bran were carried out by a French laboratory, more specifically the wheat bran residues with and without starch obtained after enzymatic hydrolysis.

Analysis by Van Soest showed that 29% of the initial bran consisted of soluble compounds, 57.6% hemicelluloses, 8.4% cellulose and 4.7% lignins. In the case of residual wheat bran after hydrolysis, the content was 24.8% soluble, 43.4% hemicellulose, 17.6% cellulose and 15.5% lignin. The remaining wheat bran is therefore depleted in soluble products and hemicelluloses, while enriched with cellulose and lignins. This is consistent with the quantification of the sugars released in the form of xylose (the main constituent of hemicelluloses). The loss of soluble compounds can be explained by the starch of wheat bran dissolved in the reaction medium during the reaction carried out in water at 50 ° C.

The protein content and the nature of the amino acids present was also analyzed in the initial wheat bran and the remaining wheat bran. There is a protein loss in residual wheat bran (10.5% total protein) compared to the original wheat bran (14.6% total protein). The amino acid profile present is similar in the two types of wheat bran. See also the analysis report attached here.

These results indicate that the wheat bran residues obtained after enzymatic hydrolysis have a less favorable composition for use in animal feed than initially expected: contrary to what was thought, the protein content of wheat bran is lowered after the enzymatic hydrolysis step required for the extraction of sugars. This indicates a probable solubility of certain proteins during the enzymatic step and means that this may not be of interest to one-maggots. However, the action of cellulase and hemicellulase enzymes can improve the digestibility of wheat bran. Add to this the fact that the fiber content has increased slightly and this could be interesting for the group of ruminants. The partners of the Valbran project offer interested parties the opportunity to investigate this further by providing one or more samples (a few 100 grams) of this residual fraction of wheat bran. Interested animal feed companies can contact the project partner on the Flemish side, Inagro, by stefaan.serlet@inagro.be.

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