Corn, Zea Mays, is grown in most countries throughout the world. It requires, however, warmer climates than found in the temperate zones to grow to maturity.

Corn starch, cornstarch, corn flour or maize starch is the starch derived from the corn (maize) grain. The starch is obtained from the endosperm of the corn kernel. Corn starch is a popular food ingredient used in the food, textile, pharmaceuticals and paper industries.

The basic unit operations involve in the production of corn {maize} starch from raw corn is highlighted below


The raw material is cleaned to remove foreign matters.

Kernels are steeped in large tanks of warm water containing acid and sulphur dioxide {Mild preservative}

Soften kernels are wet milled in a pool of water.

Settling and Decanting:
The milled product is allowed to settle under gravity and thereafter , the water is decanted to obtain a thick slurry of corn mass

The slurry is sieved to remove the husks

The starch in the slurry {less germ and husks} is separated from the protein

The starch is dewatered to form starch cake

The cake is broken to smaller pieces to increase its surface area to effective drying

The starch is dried using flash dryer

The dried corn starch is milled into desirable particle size

The starch is packaged appropriately in air tight and moisture impermeable packaging material.

Most starch is used for industrial purposes. Starch is tailor made to meet the requirements of the end-user giving rise to a range of specialty products. Many and sophisticated techniques are applied.

A most versatile principle comprises a three step wet modification: By applying different reaction conditions – temperature, pH, additives – and strict process control specialty products with unique properties are made.

These specialty products are named modified starches. They still retain their original granule form and thereby resemble the native (unmodified) starch in appearance, but the modification has introduced improved qualities in the starch when cooked. The paste may have obtained improved clarity, viscosity, film-forming ability etc.

Commercial cornstarch is used in the manufacture of sweeteners, sizing of paper and textile and as a food thickener and stabilizer. The by-products are valuable feed ingredients. Being a pure renewable natural polymer, starch has a multitude of applications. Starch finds uses in fast food, sweets, sausages, tablets, and paper, corrugated board etc. and plays a prominent part in our everyday life. In 2004 more than fifty percent of starch was converted to High Fructose Syrups (HFS). Per capita sweetener consumption is now evenly divided between sucrose and HFS.

Each year, an estimated 60 million tonnes of starch are extracted from a wide range of cereal, root and tuber crops for use in a staggering variety of products: as stabilizers in soups and frozen food, as coating on pills and paper, as adhesives on stamps and plywood, as a stiffening agent in textiles, as raw material for making ethanol, and even as binder in concrete. Around 24% of that starch comes from cassava roots, a crop better known as the staple food of millions of low-income rural people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

There is high demand for corn {maize} starch in Nigeria. With a population of over 165 million people and an estimated national population growth rate of 5.7% per annum ,an average economic growth rate of 3.5% per annum in the past five {5} years, Nigeria has a large market for corn {maize}  starch.

Industries in need of cassava starch include textile, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, paper and packaging, manufacturing and chemicals. The national demand for corn {maize} starch in Nigeria is estimated at about 800,000 tons/ annum while the current national supply is estimated at 350,000 ton per annum.