The co-products of biofuels include Animal feed (the by-products of biofuel production, such as glycerin, can be used as animal feed); Fertilizer (the by-products of biofuel production, such as distillers grains, can be used as fertilizer); and Soil amendment (the by-products of biofuel production, such as spent grains, can be used as soil amendments. The energy sources from which these come include plant oils, animal fats, agricultural residues, algae, municipal waste, biogas, ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen and pyrolysis oil. However, when we say “biofuel co-products”, the first thing that comes to mind is protein. Why? Because protein is an expensive nutrient, and the biggest single cost of producing animal protein is energy.
Although there are some minor differences in various energy sources, starch has a Fuel Value (FV) of approximately 4 kilocalories per gram (kcal/g). Fat has an FV of ~ 9 kcal/g – about 2.25 times as much as starch. Lastly, protein has about the same FV as starch – 4 kcal/g. The reason these values are so important to bio-fuel producers is that our co-products generally contain elevated levels of protein and fat – the starch is fermented for the targeted product (e.g., ethanol, biobutanol, etc.). Further, since the starch is largely removed, our co-products rely on fat as the primary contributor to energy. One thing to remember: if a co-product is included at a rate that exceeds the animal’s crude protein requirement, the excess protein will be used as an energy source – a side benefit! Remember that biofuel producers are making a valuable contribution to food production by providing protein, to be sure. But, don’t forget: they are supplying cost-effective energy as well!
Biofuel production facilities should employ a consultant who has formal training in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and nutrition. Further, the consulting nutritionist should have “hands-on” experience in both the biofuels industry and the livestock production industry – especially ration formulation. A good consultant will be able to help understand the co-products being produced and how to maximize their production and value. The value of your co-products (and, thus, the price paid) is constantly evaluated by your downstream feed customers. Shouldn’t you be doing the same?
For more than 25 years, Lee Enterprises Consulting has been at the forefront of the bioeconomy. Our highly differentiated market position centers around our deep subject matter expertise in very specialized areas. We help clients minimize technical and economic risk by leveraging best practices in our industries, and we have a long track record of providing insightful analysis and practical advice. Our reputation is unparalleled because we provide a simpliﬁed process, with a single point of contact to a diverse international network of proven experts in biofuels, biomaterials, feedstocks, alternative proteins, and existing & emerging technologies. Providing access to over 150 world-renowned bioeconomy experts allows us to create tailored solutions to meet each project’s individual needs. Please take a look at our experts and the services we provide. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for further information.