D1 Oils Plant Science has announces that it has developed and is patenting a process that expels crude biodiesel oil from Jatropha seeds and at the same time purifies the seedcake (meal) left after oil extraction to produce high protein animal feed.
Jatropha is a tropical oilseed tree that produces grain that can be crushed to produce high yields of inedible vegetable oil suitable for refining into biodiesel. The residual Jatropha seedcake left after oil extraction is currently burnt or used as fertiliser, but D1 has developed a purification process to make it suitable for animal feed. D1’s process adds little to the cost of conventional oil extraction, but by increasing substantially the value of the seedcake by-product it has the potential to improve significantly the economics of Jatropha planting worldwide.
The purified meal produced through D1’s process has been demonstrated to contain more digestible protein than soya bean meal and has an energy and amino acid composition competitive with the best available protein sources for animal feed production.
Having proved technical feasibility in phase one of its programme, D1 is now scaling up the process to produce sufficient quantities of purified seedcake for animal feed trials during 2009. Second phase trials will include tests for palatability, digestibility, animal growth and other performance indicators. The Scottish Agricultural College is carrying out the field trials on D1’s behalf. In phase three of the project, the results of trials will be used to complete regulatory approvals and to determine market entry strategies.
D1 is working with its planting business, D1-BP Fuel Crops Limited, a joint venture between D1 and BP, to commercialise the improved seedcake and to investigate opportunities to enhance earnings by licensing the proprietary technology to other Jatropha oil producers. It is anticipated that, subject to regulatory approvals, a commercial release of the technology could be available as early as 2010
“Producing material that can be used as feed will transform the economics of Jatropha planting,” said Ben Good, Chief Executive Officer of D1 Oils. “Untreated jatropha seedcake is presently a low value by-product, but treated meal that is suitable for animal feed could have a market value equivalent to soya bean meal, currently worth around £300 per tonne. It also has the potential to provide farmers in the developing world with a new source of feed for their animals, widening the positive impact of Jatropha production on rural communities. This is a significant breakthrough for D1 and for the Jatropha industry worldwide.”
Source: D1 Oils plc, press release, 2009-02-04.