News last update:6 Aug 2012

New technology offers both food and fuel

Millions of bushels of corn are being diverted to ethanol. As a result, grain and food prices are rising. Chris Carl, founder and president of Toronto-based Bio-Extraction Inc. (BioExx), believes his company has a solution.

According to Carl, the solution lies in a proprietary oil-extraction process that could hold the key to maintaining the balance between food and fuel needs.

Oils and proteins
Conventional oil-extraction methods for grains and other plants use petroleum-based solvents such as hexane and require high temperatures (up to 140 degrees) that denature the protein materials, rendering them unusable. The BioExx process, however, produces both oils and proteins. The extracted oil - whether from corn, canola or soybeans - can be marketed for biofuels, while the protein can be sold as fish meal for the booming fish-farming market or as additives for animal feed.

"Because we use lower temperatures, we don't 'cook' the proteins like an egg white would be cooked," Mr. Carl says, meaning that the proteins are thus fit for further use. In additional to animal feed, extracted proteins can also be used in industrial applications such as paints and coatings.

BioExx says its process produces almost no waste or pollutants and consumes less energy than conventional methods, making it environmentally friendly as well. Even the spent plant biomass (such as stalks or leaves) can be sold for animal feed or other products, Mr. Carl says.

Production plants
BioExx already has a small-scale commercial plant in PEI, built with the help of a $500,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Now it is working with BioNex Energy Corp. (BEC) of Calgary, which plans to build and operate plants across Canada that will integrate seed-crushing and biodiesel production facilities. BioExx is also exploring adapting its process to extract pharmaceutical and nutraceutical compounds from plants (such as saw palmetto, used in prostate treatment); and to separate and clean industrial oils. But it's the biodiesel market that holds the most promise and that's where Mr. Carl expects the BioExx process will hit pay dirt first.

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Source: The Globe and Mail

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