Making High-Protein Animal Feed and Energy-Dense Liquids at the Same Time

Many people ask if Gevo’s sustainable fuels are responsible for higher food prices. The answer is no, and there’s more to the story. Our process take inedible, industrial corn—known as dent corn or No. 2 corn—that no one eats, separates the protein and starch, and creates large amounts of high-protein animal feed. We use the leftover starch to create energy-dense liquids that store renewable energy and can be turned into fungible sustainable aviation fuel and renewable premium gasoline that do not introduce fossil carbon to the atmosphere. It’s sustainable fuel made from corn.

Renewable fuel production at Gevo does not use the entire kernel of inedible corn that is the primary feedstock for our isobutanol plant. We use the protein we capture—and there is a lot of it—to produce animal feed. We use the starch as a feedstock. By putting it through our decarbonized process we make energy-dense liquids that store renewable energy. Our entire process would produce about 9 pounds of animal feed for every gallon of sustainable aviation fuel. 

That’s a lot of animal feed. On a tonnage basis, we would produce more animal feed than we do renewable fuel.

We want to be in the business of adding protein to food chain while producing next-generation low-carbon renewable fuels, and our methods are grounded in the real world. The process works and is sustainable because it produces both feed and fuel, optimizing the sustainable use of every acre that is used to grow our feedstock corn. And producing all of it means we have more to sell. The circular economy only works if the economics of it make good sense. 


Low-Carbon Meat and the Circular Economy

The problem of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change is so large that it’s going to take every solution we can figure out. Every source of GHGs can be reduced, including agriculture sources, such as meat.
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Animal Feed and Protein

But there’s more to this, because we take the question of food vs. fuel very seriously. Anyone who cares about nutrition and worries about malnutrition, as we do, must care about protein, because it is protein that is most needed.

High-protein animal feed results in healthier livestock that produce better meat. In keeping with our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions there are other benefits:

  • Our animal feed will be sold to farmers in the area around our facilities, so we don’t have to truck our feed long distances.
  • High-protein animal feed reduces methane emissions from livestock. Methane is a greenhouse gas that retains heat 80 times more than carbon dioxide.
  • Farmers who keep livestock as a complement to growing corn have a natural source of inexpensive fertilizer from manure that keeps the nutrients from the corn on the farm, without trucking in synthetic fertilizers.
  • Manure can be placed in digesters that use natural yeasts to break down the manure, releasing methane which can then be captured and used for energy as renewable natural gas—a methane renewable fuel.

Download the Whitepaper

Gevo Whitepaper – Food and Fuels
Advanced renewable fuels offer a pathway to sustainable energy sources that also contribute to a healthier, readily available food supply.