Researchers Feed Pigs, Chickens High-Protein Fungus Grown on Ethanol Leftovers
(PhysOrg) In separate feeding trials, nursery pigs and chickens have eaten high-protein fungi that Hans van Leeuwen and other Iowa State University researchers have produced in a pilot plant that converts ethanol leftovers into food-grade fungi. The production process also cleans some of the water used to produce ethanol, boosting the amount of water that can be recycled back into biofuel production and saving energy on water cleanup and co-product recovery. So far in the feeding trials, researchers have found pig performance wasn’t impacted when dried fungi were substituted for corn or soybean meal, said Nicholas Gabler, an assistant professor of animal science. Researchers are still studying the effects of the feed on amino acid availability, tissue growth, and intestinal health. The fungi produce a high-energy feed for chickens, said Mike Persia, an assistant professor of animal science. He said more studies need to be done, “but generally I think there’s some value there.” The fungi-production process was developed by a research team led by van Leeuwen, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering. The process has two patents pending and has won several major awards – most recently it was named the global grand winner of the International Water Association’s 2012 Project Innovation Awards in Applied Research.
…The fungus is then harvested and dried as animal feed that’s rich in protein, certain essential amino acids, polyunsaturated oils and other nutrients. It can be blended with distillers dried grains to boost its value as a livestock feed and make it more suitable for feeding hogs and chickens. And van Leeuwen hopes the fungal product could one day be a low-cost nutritional supplement for people. Van Leeuwen said the production technology can save United States ethanol producers up to $800 million a year in energy costs. He also said the technology can produce ethanol co-products worth another $800 million or more per year, depending on how it is used and marketed. READ MORE