How to Optimize Your Hi-Gel™ Corn Extrusion Process
As you have read this month, over years of continuous technological advancements and market demand, Insta-Pro has developed an innovative processing solution for corn extrusion. This has been exciting for customers, as Hi-Gel™ corn has been shown to significantly improve efficiency and performance in animals. Extruding corn can be difficult to do properly because of its high starch and low oil content. The product gelatinizes and expands which can happen uncontrollably. Development and internal testing allows our best practices to help ensure a more stable and efficient process for our customers.
Even while using specialized equipment, there are still recommended procedures to follow which can be applied in every scenario. These recommendations can result in less wear on parts, lower operator costs, less downtime for maintenance, and an overall increase in productivity.
When extruding corn, the high temperature and pressure cause the corn to gelatinize, making the corn come out of the nose cone in a rope-like form. This results in problems with conveying and storage. To solve this problem, a cutter should be added at the end to break up the product. If this isn’t used, the lengths of extruded material can wrap around the auger in the conveyor and plug it. The cutter should be on a variable frequency drive, so you can control the size of the extruded corn by speeding up or slowing down the cutter.
Another device essential to have when processing Hi-Gel™ is a water injection system installed onto the extruder. The combination of starch and low oil, combined with the high friction of the extruder, results in the product becoming unstable and varying in temperature, as well as “surging”. Surging is when product builds up in the barrel and with enough pressure built up behind it, the pressure will blow the product out. This process is hard to control and can lead to faster wear and higher parts costs, as well as potential danger to the machine operators.
The water injection system solves this issue by injecting water into the inlet chamber with the water pump system provided by Insta-Pro. This eases some of the friction and stabilize the Hi-Gel™ extrusion process. If the product temperature becomes too hot, increase the water injection rate. If the temperature is too low, reduce the water injection.
With our experience, we have been able to achieve starch gelatinization of 90+% using the methods and parameters described here. Producing Hi-Gel™ requires attention to the details outlined above, with the help and resources that Insta-Pro has to offer, with our engineers, nutritionists, and service teams, you will have peace of mind in knowing you can successfully produce this unique value-added product. Please reach out to an Insta-Pro team member to inquire about producing Hi-Gel™ corn.