Partnership means patented technology can produce food and fuel

By Lisa Gibson | September 15, 2009
Report posted Sept. 24, 2009, at 2:32 p.m. CST

The partnership between Colorado-based PureVision Technology Inc., a renewable technology developer, and Australian microbiology company Microbiogen means PureVision's fractionation technology can produce biofuel and protein products simultaneously in biorefineries, according to the company.

PureVision's patented fractionation process separates cellulosic biomass into three streams inside one pressurized reaction chamber, according to the company. The extraction technique removes and recovers the hemicellulose and lignin in two liquid fractions, leaving a solid fraction containing relatively pure cellulose or fiber. The process can be done in a single step, or several, depending on the desired product. "Once you have your three streams broken down, you take the sugars and ferment them into alcohols and biofuels," said Ed Lehrburger, founder and president of PureVision.

The fractionation process can produce Mibcrobiogen's nongenetically modified yeast organism, which will be utilized in the fermentation process, and also has the ability to clean the waste stream generated by it. Once fermentation is complete, the organism can be sold as a high-protein byproduct. "You can use yeast as a supplement to animal feed, fish food or human food," Lehrburger said.

The fractionation process is not commercialized yet, but operating on a one-half-ton-per-day pilot scale, according to Lehrburger. The company is working on a 20-ton-per-day facility, as well, and hopes to have its first commercial biorefinery in 2012."We don't know if this will expedite the process, but it will roll out a commercialization strategy," he said of the partnership.

Biomass feedstocks used in the process include corn stalks, corncobs, wheat straw, bagasse, soft woods and triticale straw. The use of the yeast organism increases the efficiency of the process by using what has been regarded as waste biomass, along with the food part of the crop, for the production of both fuel and protein, according to PureVision. It also addresses concerns about the use of food crops for biofuels production, according to the company. It offers a packaged solution to biorefinery developers, Lehrburger said.