KWS Manufacturing

Custom-Engineered Bulk Material Handling System for Zein Corn Protein Plant

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Plant Name and Location

Big River Prairie Gold
Galva, IL

General Description

Big River Prairie Gold (BRPG) is a joint venture of Big River Resources, LLC and Prairie Gold, Inc. Prairie Gold is a technology company with a portfolio of patented technologies related to production of high-value products from corn. BRPG is currently building a facility to produce Amazein™ within the already existing Galva, IL ethanol plant site. Zein (pronounced “zayne”) is a protein made from corn. Amazein™ is licensed exclusively by Prairie Gold, Inc. and was developed at the University of Illinois. Zein is an extremely useful product and is used in chewing gum, food packaging, antioxidants, biodegradable plastics, and much more. For this project, BRPG required bulk material handling equipment for various parts of the plant. Drag conveyors were needed to convey wet cake consisting of spent corn solids for transport out of the process. Bucket elevators and screw conveyors were also required to elevate and convey the corn meal after the ethanol had been removed. Additionally, screw feeders to meter corn meal from hoppers were required. KWS provided a complete solution to BRPG.

Design Parameters

  1. Product Type: Wet Cake, Corn Meal and Feed
  2. Material Density: 32-62 Lbs. per Cubic Foot
  3. System Capacity: 125-218 Cubic feet per Hour
  4. System Duty: 24 Hours per Day, 7 Days per Week

KWS Advantages

BRPG contacted KWS after meeting with our local sales representative and requested an engineered solution for their new process. The process was designed by KATZEN International, a prominent engineering firm in the ethanol business. Some general dimensions and requirements were provided by KATZEN and KWS designed the rest of the solution. KWS added value by selecting the correct type bulk material handling method for each specified conveying process. KWS has the knowledge and expertise to select the right piece of equipment for the application. Drag conveyors were selected for gently conveying bulk materials over a long distance with multiple inlets. Screw feeders were used for metering bulk materials from hoppers and bins. Working together with BRPG, KWS provided long-term solutions that exceeded expectations.

Special Features

A “first of a kind” plant often requires a very flexible design team since the process and layout must be adaptable. KWS designed the system in 3D Autodesk Inventor so the engineering teams from BRPG and KWS were able to accurately and parametrically make changes to improve access and remove interferences. The custom drag conveyors were designed with corrosion-resistant 304 stainless steel troughs, 316 stainless steel chain, and UHMW flights. The drag conveyors also had ports for cleaning and vents for removing any explosive ethanol gas. Explosion-proof motors and controls were utilized when the conveyors were in an environment where flammable vapors, liquids or gases, or combustible dusts or fibers may be present. KWS designed the bucket elevators with ladders, intermediate platforms, and head platforms to make inspection and maintenance very easy. KWS selected continuous style bucket elevators to gently elevate and convey the fine bulk materials. The screw conveyors were designed specifically for the conditions with features such as nitrogen-purged seals, stainless steel construction, and engineered plastic hanger bearings.


"We really like the quality of the equipment we’ve received and we will definitely want KWS equipment for our future expansion."

Shaun Knapp – Plant Manager, Big River Prairie Gold


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