Processing cereal straws by steam explosion in a pilot plant to enhance digestibility in ruminants

E. Viola, F. Zimbardi, M. Cardinale, G. Cardinale, G. Braccio, E. Gambacorta

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Wheat, barley and oat straws were treated by steam explosion (SE) and then washed with 50 g/l NaOH solution. The SE treatment was optimized at batch scale on the basis of carbohydrate recovery. Stocks of fodder (300 kg) were produced at 198 °C for 2.5 min by a continuous reactor and used for in vivo digestibility tests carried out on sheep. The flow-sheet and the mass balances were obtained for the entire process. For the three straws, the water consumption has been 7.3 kg/kg of straw. To delignify and improve the digestibility of the straws, 20 g of NaOH/kg straw was used. The yield of fodder, lignin and hemicellulose is dependant on the nature of the starting straw. Delignified fodder (insoluble fraction) can be produced with a yield of 0.64, 0.59, 0.55, respectively, from wheat, barley and oat straw. SE improved the digestibility of the straw by 25%; alkaline washing further increased it by 9%. Balanced rations containing, on a DM basis, 1/4 of treated straw, had digestibility coefficients similar to those of commercial rations based on alfalfa. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681 - 689
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Food Science
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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