Sweetener Found in Ethanol Waste

Published online: Jul 12, 2000
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Fermentation leftovers turned into high-value, low-calorie sweetener.

According to an ARS News Service story, Agricultural Research Service scientists are developing a process to turn corn fiber from ethanol production into a high-value, low-calorie sweetener called xylitol. It gives many products a minty-cool taste.

The scientists have found that certain strains of the yeast Pichia guilliermondii excel at producing xylitol from fermented corn fiber.

Xylitol has one-third fewer calories than sugar and about the same sweetening power. Makers of some specialty brand sugarless chewing gums pay about $3 per pound.

It is currently made in Finland by treating acid-treated fibers of birch wood in a chemical process. It is now a $28 million market in foods, mouthwashes, toothpaste and chewing gum.