Novel protein source could replace soya

A novel protein source derived from the biofuels industry could soon become a significant ingredient in protein rations, lowering dependency on imported soya meal.

Until now, the main co-product from bioethanol plants has been dried distillers’ grains with solubles (DDGS. This has proven suitable as a cattle feed, but has had limited use for non-ruminants, due to its high fibre content.

But researchers at Nottingham Trent University, supported by AB Agri and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, have developed a way of extracting more value from the product.

The new, patented process separates DDGS into three fractions – fibre, a watery syrup and yeast protein concentrate (YPC). This concentrate was then tested in a series of experiments to assess both its effect on pellet quality (a real draw back with straight DDGS) and on broiler performance.

The research showed that up to 62% inclusion of YPC was possible without any damage to pellets durability.

And, while using YPC did not appear to be as effective as soya meal in terms of feed conversion rates and daily weight gain, the researchers believed that it still had the potential to partially replace soya, especially since it is likely to be available in large volumes.

Project supervisor, Dr Emily Burton, said the work was only just beginning. “Bioethanol is already a 60-billion-litre per year global market, but this project shows the fuel itself is only half the story – immense value lies within other co-product streams too. As well as the proteins, the yeast content provides important vitamins and other micronutrients.”

A project at a US bioethanol facility is now up and running, demonstrating the performance of the process at factory scale.

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