The protein portion possesses a more versatile list of possibilities, and has the most potential to end up in human food. The protein can be made into a powder that is tasteless, colorless and, according to Rivers, a dream come true for lactose-intolerant milk lovers. “Soy milk has a yellowish brown tint, but we’ve figured out how to take the protein and make it into a completely white powder with absolutely no taste. And similar to milk and soy drinks, it can be flavored by adding chocolate, strawberry or butterscotch flavor,” says Rivers.
While still in the development stage at ICM’s pilot plant, LifeLine Foods in St. Joseph, MO, upon completion Rivers expects the powder to be marketed as a protein additive for snacks and other solid foods. He anticipates the product could be sold to the snack sector for up to $6/pound once its full potential is realized. ICM is in the process of defining the properties of the powder for its use in food formulations. “It could be used as an egg white substitute because of its foamy property. In the lab we’re trying to find ways to get this into the food companies where they would test it to see if it could be worked into an existing formulation,” Rivers says.
Rivers hopes that once these solutions become aware to the public, the negative attention toward the ethanol industry will die down. “When more people understand all the food possibilities ethanol production can create, it will change the focus from food vs. fuel to food and fuel. You’re likely to see signs in the future that read ‘ICM food and fuel facility,’” says Rivers.
New feed-grade solutions
Another co-product of ethanol is a high-protein feed product called dried distillers grains. DDG has already gained popularity with dairy and cattle producers over the past few years, but the swine and poultry sector has not been able to take advantage of the feed because of its high fiber content. However, ICM has developed a way to reduce the fiber content enough to make DDG advantageous for these markets.
ICM has also developed a protein feed additive from the syrup created in the fermentation process. A traditional mill could sell that corn syrup, but when employing the dry-fractionation technology, the protein in the syrup has already been extracted before reaching the fermentation step. ICM’s method captures value despite the loss of protein. “We’ve created a single cell protein from this very low-grade syrup. It can be made into yeast and added into animal feeds to increase protein,” Rivers says.
Creating food, feed and fuel in one process may be the answer to the food vs. fuel debate. Using fractionation to separate the endosperm, bran and germ opens up many marketing possibilities and may help the public understand that making ethanol doesn’t only provide fuel, but also human food additives and substitutes and animal feed.
Biofuels in the News
VeraSun names Timm Hoffman as vice president
VeraSun Energy Corp. announced that Timm Hoffman has been named the company’s vice president of information technology. In his new role, Hoffman will be responsible for strategic planning, development, and execution of information technology infrastructure and initiatives. Hoffman joins VeraSun following a 12-year career with Gateway.
Hoffman most recently served as Gateway’s vice president, IT applications and infrastructure. Prior to Gateway, he held IT positions with the Nebraska Public Power District, Black Hills Power and Light, and John Morrell and Co.
Quad County Corn chooses FCO2 as fractionation technology provider
FCStone Carbon LLC (FCO2) announced that Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) has engaged with FCO2’s engineering and construction partner Agri Process Innovations (API) of Stuttgart, AR, to design and build the Quick Germ Quick Fiber Modified Wet Milling corn fractionation process at QCCP’s ethanol plant near Galva, IA.
“We have been very impressed with how QCCP has evaluated the broad field of fractionation technology and are extremely pleased that upon completing their due diligence process they have chosen our package,” comments Mike Kinley, chief operating officer, FCO2.
The patented fractionation technology was developed at the University of IL, Urbana-Champaign and exclusively licensed to Maize Processing Innovators, Inc. (MPI), based in Champaign, Illinois. It offers significant benefits to ethanol plants who wish to separate the corn kernel’s component parts for further downstream processing.