Bioenergy Patent Could Push Past Food Vs. Fuel Conflict
A new patent application in the United States could point the way to a corn processing platform that extracts any components that are useful for food or animal feed, then processes the rest as energy.
The patent recently granted to San Francisco-based SynGest Inc., titled “Extraction of immobilized oil using mixtures of food grade solvents”, suggests fractionating corn to separate the oil from the protein, Biofuels Digest reports. “The approach is an antidote to food vs, fuel, or even food and fuel,” writes publisher Jim Lane. “It is food, then fuel.”
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The four fractions listed in the patent include bran for use in animal feed, a high-quality protein that can also be fed to animals, clean corn oil for use in biodiesel, and a starch residue that can be fermented into fuel.
“When we realize that a mixture of 80% corn protein with 20% soy protein creates a ‘perfect’ food, by having all of the amino acids necessary to synthesize a protein, this became a compelling way to make fuel and high-quality nutritious food,” said SynGest CEO Jack Oswald. “The dried distillers grains that are now being used as animal feed are, in my view, hurting the poor animals and producing a lower-quality product.”
On the fuel side of the process, he added, “we believed that fermenting whole grain corn and then concentrating the ethanol was far more complex and time-consuming than using more or less pure starch. The oil extraction from all that slop is also more complex, and more complex to convert into a high-quality fuel.”