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Master of Agribusiness

Damaged Starch in the Flour Mill: How to Reduce the Electricity Bill

Charles Loubersac D’Hotel, Paris, France, will graduate from Kansas State University (USA) in May with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree. He defended his thesis, “Damaged Starch in the Flour Mill: How to Reduce the Electricity Bill” on April 17, 2012. Loubersac is the Export Director for Chopin Technologies in Paris, France.

For his research, Loubersac studied three flour mills located in different countries. The mills conducted tests to measure starch damage and amperage with a variety of wheats under various mill settings. His statistical analysis of the data demonstrates the potential benefits of fine-tuning flour mills for energy efficiency as well as flour quality.

SDmatic, a device designed and marketed by Chopin Technologies SAS, makes possible the measurement and control of starch damage in flour. Because starch damage affects dough characteristics and baking quality, the use of SDmatic to control starch damage can improve product quality and consistency. Loubersac postulated a potential secondary benefit of starch monitoring: energy conservation. His premise is that knowing the joint relationship between starch damage and energy consumption by wheat quality, mill design and mill settings would allow one to reduce power consumption in milling without sacrificing flour quality.  Analysis of the data collected demonstrated that joint management of flour quality and energy consumption is viable.

“For mills buying the SDmatic to determine starch damage, the energy savings is an extra bonus,” Loubersac said. “The machine makes it easy to determine the amount of starch damage. By fine tuning the amount of starch damage throughout a flour mill’s processing streams, energy savings can be achieved.”

The discovery of this additional benefit of the machine has further implications for the milling and baking industry. Arlo Biere, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Loubersac’s thesis advisor, said, “This research offers increased flour consistency while reducing energy use not only for the milling and baking industry, but also for the environment. Even though the environmental impact may seem small, these can add up to a significant impact and should not be ignored. Loubersac’s research opens many possibilities in improving mill operations.” 

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/13684.