A Canadian company may have found a key process that could allow the same crops to produce both food and fuel. Given that a UN expert on food recently called the shift of arable land from food to fuel a “crime against humanity,” the technology could point the way out of what has seemed like an intractable problem.
Bio-Extraction Inc., headquartered in Toronto, has developed a way of processing corn, canola, and soybeans such that both oil (for fuel) and proteins (for animal feed) can be extracted from the same grain. The technology possesses an extra green bonus: because it uses lower temperatures to separate the proteins from the oil, it uses less energy than conventional biofuel extraction processes.
BioExx’s technology is not a panacea for all that ills the world of food production, but it certainly seems like a step in the right direction. Importantly, the technology is nearly ready for industrial-scale production. The company recently announced plans for a 40-million-kilogram extraction facility for canola oilseeds. At full capacity, the plant will annually produce 17.5 million liters of crude canola oil that could be turned into oil or biodiesel as well as 13 million kg of animal feed. BioExx says the plant will come online in the latter half of 2008.
BioExx is not a biofuels company, per se. Instead, they focus on the extraction of all types of biological products. Until recently, their business had focused on extracting things like birch bark for use in supplements and so-called nutraceuticals. It seems clear, however, that the company is trying to catch the prevailing biofuel wind to propel itself forward.
BioExx is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange’s Venture Exchange under the ticker (BXI.V). The company has 54 million shares outstanding and is trading at around 32 Canadian cents. According to filings with Canadian securities authorities, BioExx lost money in the first half of 2007, however, its balance sheet shows assets of $2.3 million Canadian dollars to only $790,000 in liabilities.