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New feed mill finalised for Kansas State University

Published on 25 January, 2010, Last updated at 07:27 GMT
New feed mill finalised for Kansas State University

A new O.H. Kruse mill is planned for construction by Kansas State University. It is to be used by Kansas State University's Feed Science and Management (FSM) program, which is one of the leading educational programs for the feed industry in the U.S. The program which has provided nearly 700 graduates to the U.S feed manufacturing industry over the nearly 60 years since the industry helped to establish the program at K-State. The feed mill is expected to begin construction some time in late 2010, with the feed operational after a year from commencement, said Keith Behnke, professor in K-State’s Department of Grain Science and Industry.

Several thousand domestic and international feed industry professionals have participated in educational short courses and seminars provided by the FSM program and the faculty have been a source of problem solving and new technological information throughout the program’s history, Behnke said. The program has been fortunate to have a dedicated teaching and research feed mill available on campus for student and faculty use.

"Even though remodeled and updated numerous times, the present mill has far outlived its useful life and must be replaced," he added.

Part of the impetus for the new feed mill is the selection of K-State/Manhattan as the site for the new $650 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) laboratory to be built by the Department of Homeland Security. NBAF will replace an aging BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) facility on Plum Island, NY. The site chosen for NBAF is the current site of the K-State Department of Animal Sciences feed mill which, like its Grain Science counterpart, is well beyond its useful life, Behnke said. Prior to completion of NBAF, the ASI feed mill must be replaced.

"The new feed mill and bio-refinery complex is one of K-State’s top priorities," said K-State president Kirk Schulz. "With close to half of the necessary funding already raised or committed, we are enthusiastic about the new facilities which will benefit industry as well as our students."

The Kruse family of Goshen, CA, has made a lead gift of $2 million to honor the company founder, O. H. Kruse, and to stress the importance of educating and training the next generation of feed and bio-fuels industry professionals. The State of Kansas has committed to provide about half of the funding required for the new mill to replace the existing feed mill. Additional cash and in-kind equipment donations will provide the remaining resources needed for construction.

The decision was made by K-State officials to combine the feed-related activities of the Departments of Grain Science and Animal Sciences and build a single facility that will serve the teaching, research and outreach needs of both departments as well as the needs of the College of Agriculture in general, Behnke said. What will ultimately be a $12.5 million facility will include a modern, automated 5-ton-per-hour feed mill, a liquid feed research facility, and a BSL-2 teaching and research feed mill. The mill is designed in such a way that scientists will be able to safely work with low virulence pathogens such as salmonella in feeds, but also use the facility for other research, teaching and outreach activities when not used in the BSL-2 mode.

Schulz noted that "the new feed mill will enhance K-State's already strong ability to support the Department of Homeland Security’s National Bio and Agro-defense Facility. With the new mill just across the street from NBAF, K-State can provide specialty livestock diets to support infectious disease experiments, oral vaccine studies and other trials under high level bio-safety controlled conditions. This work cannot be done anywhere else in the U.S."

In addition to the processing operations, the facility will contain corrugated grain bins for ingredient storage and for conducting large-scale grain storage and grain quality preservation research.

Ken Odde, head of K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, said "the facility will be jointly managed and will provide research diets and supplements for all university animal units as well as a teaching platform for all students but particularly those in the Feed Science and Management program."

Economies of scale in the purchase of ingredients and the efficient use of labor are expected to offer financial savings over the operation of two separate feed mills, Behnke said. Nearly all of the labor will be provided by student employees and many of those will be able to assume supervisory roles during their college careers. That will be extremely attractive to prospective employers of those graduates.

The preliminary design and cost estimate of the feed mill was provided by Younglove Construction, Sioux City, Iowa. A feed mill design team made up of faculty members of both departments, as well as students, began working on the concept of a single facility nearly a year ago. Using in-house talent and the experience of operating the two existing mills, the team was able to provide a tentative layout and flow diagram that included the features and capabilities needed to start the formal design process. Since the new facility will be located on a site where all the access roads and utilities are already in place, construction cost has been substantially reduced.

"The design team worked with Younglove engineers and equipment vendors to identify specific machines that would meet the needs of the University," said Dirk Maier, head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry. "The feed mill will house several processing machines that will allow in-depth teaching of operational principles. For example, we will have a full-sized hammermill and roller mill for grinding research, teaching and production."

The Buhler Corporation has agreed to install a vertical shaft hammermill for research and teaching as well, Maier said. "In addition to a traditional pellet mill, we will have a Kahl ‘flat-bed’ pellet mill that will be a technology platform for pelleting biomass for cellulosic bio-fuels research. Several devices, such as a Kahl expander and a CPM Hygenizer, will be available to conduct feed sterilization and sanitation research."

It is expected that the feed industry will be required to consider feed sterilization in the near future to satisfy new food/feed safety laws that are under consideration in the U.S. Congress, Maier said.
"Of course, the most important benefit of the new facility will be for students," Behnke said. "Imagine the knowledge gained by students who will watch the construction of the new mill on a weekly basis; participate in the commissioning process; have the chance for student employment; and to participate in laboratories conducted in the new facility. Needless to say, current K-State students are excited by the prospects of the new mill and it is gratifying to describe, to prospective students, the opportunities they will have with the new mill. The faculty is constantly looking for ways to recruit new students into the program and to successfully prepare them for their industry careers. The new facility will improve student recruitment and preparation dramatically."

Throughout its existence, the Feed Program at K-State has provided critical research support to the feed industry, Behnke said. With the new mill, research capability will be greatly enhanced.

"There is no doubt that food/feed safety will become the most critical issue facing feed manufacturers in the immediate future," he added. "However, energy efficiency, environmental issues, feed quality, and nutritional performance will continue to be critically important to the feed industry and require research resources. The new mill is designed to accommodate nearly any type of processing research and data acquisition that is needed by an industrial client or university scientist using the new state-of-the-art facility planned.

Because of long term interests in bio-fuels from cellulosic materials, there will be space in the new mill for a "semi-works" scale bio-refinery. While the bio-refinery can use nearly any biomass as raw material, the current emphasis is on cheaper, renewable cellulosic material sources that will provide additional income prospects for U.S. farmers and be socially and environmentally responsible regarding the use of grains for bio-fuels production. The facility is also expected to include pilot-scale oilseed crushing and processing equipment.


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