by BoMill, Sweden

 

Sometimes a small deficit in grain product quality creates a steep reduction in the product´s economic value. Under the established systems of grading wheat, barley, or durum, even a tiny number of kernels of undesirable quality can easily reduce the value of the total grain batch by 25 percent or even to an almost total loss.

On a conceptual level, there ought to be a better way. If we simply removed the exact amount of offending material, the higher economic value of what is left would presumably justify the effort. Until recently, however, the grain industry has lacked a proven, efficient method of doing so.

The traditional methods of grain sorting are limited to the removal of odd-looking kernels as observed and judged from the visual inspection of their surface properties ie discoloured kernels or kernels with abnormal morphological properties. These methods are, however, unable to judge the quality of the most valuable part of the kernel – its inner part.

The Swedish company BoMill has developed a globally unique grain sorting technology which enables sorting of grains beyond visual surface properties. This proprietary technology makes it possible to analyse and identify each kernel in a batch and grade them according to their internal qualities.

BoMill: A pioneer in grain sorting based on the internal properties of the grains

BoMill's advanced sorting technology 'looks inside every single kernel' to decide its classification: eg into animal feed or human food, by using NIR-light in transmission mode with the capacity of 25,000 kernels-per-second, sorted into three or six quality fractions. This method captures the hidden value in every grain batch, allowing the industry to optimise yield and revenue from every harvest and, thus, directly contributing to UN Sustainability Goals for 2030.

This ground-breaking technology has been developed since 2001 and has, so far, resulted in two commercial products (sorting devices): the IQ Sorter for laboratory sorting and the TriQ Sorter – the industrial version.

BoMill's technology has been recognised internationally by TERRA (a global innovation accelerator initiative by Rabo Bank & Rocketspace, which fuels ground-breaking transformations in the food and agriculture industries) as a disruptive technology that can redefine the grain industry.

In order to reach the desired market position, the technology needs further development and upscaling. BoMill has, together with its international owners, created an organisation to pursue this goal. They have cross-disciplinary industry expertise with a specialisation in grain sorting, which means BoMill understands their customers' needs and are able to drive transformative change across the entire grain sorting value chain.

Today, grain is the second largest traded commodity after oil. The correct grading and sorting of the grain has, thus, a direct impact on global food security and safety.

The solution

The TriQ Sorter is our industrial version. Grains are fed into the machine by the top and enter the cylinder that turns at 60rpm. It can sort up to 25,000 kernels-per-second by internal properties. It can, for example, sort on protein, vitreousness or Deoxynivalenol (DON).

The cylinder, with up to 25,000 pockets adapted to the size of the cereal, singularises each grain and carries them in the pockets by rotating to the NIR-light source. Each pocket has a hole allowing the NIR light beam to pass through each kernel and reach the sensor.

Each kernel is shot by between eight-to-ten beams of NIR-light and, according to how the light passes through, each single grain will be ejected individually into one of the three fractions. Only the analysed kernel will be ejected which gives no ejection losses. Three homogenous fractions will be sorted.

The IQ Sorter is a smaller laboratory scale machine with the same technology enabling it to sort into six fractions. In the example above, we have a real-life case where the machine has sorted on protein.

Different levels of protein alter the suitability for different applications, and we can turn lots with one average protein level into several lots with different homogenous protein levels. This gives the user the possibility to offer different qualities for different applications which increases the value of the total lot. The original sample had an average of 13.2 percent of protein and was separated into six homogenous fractions with protein levels from 10.5 percent to 14.2 percent.

Individual grain sorting is a totally new approach that is attracting increasing interest in the grain industry

Environmental influences will continue to cause fluctuations in quality and price. In parallel, new, more restrictive food standards for mycotoxins and new guidelines requiring specific handling of the lots are expected. All of this should motivate grain producers and processors to think about the use of single kernel sorting systems in their facilities.

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