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Biotech JV to Pilot New Corn Hybrid and New Ethanol Process

Renessen LLC, a biotech joint venture between Cargill and Monsanto (earlier post), has announced plans for a pilot plant to test a new technology system in which new biotech corn hybrids with increased energy and nutrient levels will be combined with a novel dry corn separation technique designed for ethanol facilities.

The new system has the potential to increase the profitability of corn growers, ethanol producers, and swine and poultry producers.

Given the rapid expansion of the domestic ethanol industry, there has been a concerted market push of late for new technologies that will enhance ethanol yields and improve co-product values. Our process does both, and also will greatly reduce the need for natural gas to dry the non-fermentable material.

—Renessen CEO Michael Stern

The pilot plant will provide engineering data to help Renessen refine specifications for building a full-scale commercial plant and developing livestock feed markets. The facility, which will employ about 15 people, will be built at Cargill’s Iowa BioProcessing Center campus in Eddyville, about 70 miles southeast of Des Moines, IA.

A limited number of bushels of the modified corn will be contracted with Iowa farmers for the 2006 growing season to ensure a ready supply in time for the pilot plant’s expected opening in January 2007.

By applying a novel processing technology with a high-nutrient corn specially adapted for the process, the system will allow a standard dry-grind ethanol plant to produce several products on site, including:

  • Corn oil for food and biodiesel;

  • A nutrient-rich feed ingredient for use in swine and poultry production;

  • A more easily fermentable ethanol medium;

  • An enhanced form of distiller dried grains with solubles (DDGS), the standard cattle feed co-product of today’s ethanol dry milling process.

The new production process is expected to be more profitable because the nutrient-rich feed ingredient, the corn oil, and the enhanced DDGS produced in this new process all have potentially greater value than today's traditional dry-grind ethanol co-products.

Assuming successful testing of the process at the Eddyville pilot facility, Renessen plans to actively seek ethanol partners for commercialization of the technology.


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