Corncobs are an ideal feedstock for biorefineries

Corncobs have the highest energy density of all the agricultural residues. However, since the arrival of the cobine harvesters, the cobs are left on the field. Below you’ll see some references on how they can be harvested on the go. Also, in many parts of the world and for maize seed production, the whole ear is harvested and the cobs are then available at the side of the field, at a maize mill or the seed company.

Corncobs are used as feedstock for furfural biorefineries, since the mid 1920s! They are harvested over a ±3months period and then stockpiled to supply the biorefinery for the balance of the year.

There are many technical and agricultural reasons why cobs are a good biorefinery feedstock choice. We have previously (see: reported:

Removal of cobs does not affect the soil health.

 Modern, on-the-go single-pass harvesting systems allow large-scale collection of cobs.

 Co-harvesting of corncobs makes sense e.g. for small scale farmers (in Africa and elsewhere).

Images on cob harvest, transport and cob storage.


To illustrate the opportunities, herewith some some links to randomly selected articles:

Does the co-harvesting of maize and cobs make business sense?

 Turning corncobs into chemicals and energy is the core of the GreenEnergyPark ..

Cob chic: as cellulosic biofuels arrive, the humble corn cob reigneth anew

Cobs to Spandex