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How a blend of non-starch-degrading enzymes can reduce viscosity across the distilling process

“Small grain” cereals including rye, barley, wheat and triticale contain non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs). These bind water, leading to high mash viscosities. High viscosity results in processing challenges. A balanced blend of non-starch-degrading enzymes breaks down the NSPs. That reduces viscosity and improves the entire distilling process. 

In cereals,  non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs)  are the structural components of cell walls.  NSPs include arabinoxylans, beta-glucans and cellulases. NSPs have a high water-binding capacity, leading to high viscosity. High viscosity has a range of negative effects across the distilling process. A highly viscous mash reduces transfer efficiency in the heat exchangers. It also means the distillery must run at a low Dry Solids (DS) level. That leads to higher energy use in steam heating the mash, vacuum cooling the cooked starch raw material and wort cooling.
High viscosity reduces the efficiency of jet cooking and heat transfer in the fermenter. It also slows down the release of dissolved carbon dioxide in the fermenter.

A balanced blend of non-starch-degrading enzymes targets key water-binding NSPs. Arabinoxylans can be water unextractable (WU-AX) or water-extractable (WE-AX). The water-unextractable fraction can hold up to 10 times its weight in water.   Arabinoxylans consist of α-L-arabinofuranose residues linked to a backbone chain of D-xylose residues. Xylanases break down the linear arabinoxylan backbone. That decreases the amount of water-insoluble arabinoxylans. 

Beta-glucanases break down mixed-linked 1,3-1,4 β-glucans, reducing their water-binding capacity. Cellulose is a long linear polymer made of glucose.  Cellulases hydrolyze the 1,4-beta-D-glycosidic linkages in cellulose. That breaks down the cellulose polymer into shorter poly- or oligosaccharides or monosaccharides. The hydrolysis reduces the water-binding capacity of cellulose. 

Working together in a balanced blend, these non-starch-degrading enzymes significantly reduce mash viscosity. The result is a more energy-efficient, smoother distilling process. 

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