An Alberta-based research group has received U.S. patent approval for a biorefining technology that transforms food and animal waste into nutrient products for fertilizer and biogas.
The "BioRefinex process", a new thermal hydrolysis and fractionation process invented by Dr. Erick Schmidt of Ponoka, Alberta (Alta.), utilizes high pressure and high temperature steam reactors and integrated centrifuges.
Schmidt is confident this process provides an environmentally superior alternative to incineration and landfilling of disease risk materials such as meat and bones from animal carcasses. It also creates economic value from the processed waste.
The North American patent rights have been assigned by Schmidt and Biosphere Technologies Inc. to BioRefinex Canada Inc., which is developing an international demonstration and research facility to be located in Lacombe, Alta. The facility benefitted from a $10-million grant from Alberta's Climate Change and Emission Management (CCEMC) Corporation as part of the total project financing.
Stated on its website under the company’s vision, BioRefinex says “the approximate 55,000 tonnes of material to be treated annually in the Lacombe facility is a fraction of the potential livestock and plant organic waste material in Canada that we will target in future.”
BioRefinex estimates there are more than two million tonnes of suitable material in Canada that could be transformed into higher value products each year. In the U.S, the company says this figure jumps to at least 13 million tonnes annually.
BioRefinex says “the Lacombe Biorefinery is designed to manufacture organic nutrients for fertilizers and biogas produced by anaerobic digestors for co-generation of ‘green’ electrical power.”
The commercialization of the new technology is expected to bring major health and economic benefits to Canadian livestock producers, who now pay a high cost for disposal of specified risk materials (SRM) from cattle over 30 months. This process has been certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for the processing of SRMs as a part of Canada's BSE eradication program.
According to an October 5, 2012 announcement, the BioRefinex process has been adopted by the 178 member countries of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) for the destruction of all infectious microbiological pathogens causing infectious agent diseases such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in elk and deer.
The new technology incorporates centrifugal separation of the hydrolyzed output, creating valuable fractions of fatty acids, amino acids and digestible minerals.
BioRefinex says the new patent expands the commercial scope of an earlier patent granted in 1999. In addition to the new patent, sister patents for the tech process have recently been issued by Japan, Australia and South Africa, with additional patents pending in the European Community, Asia and South America.
The patent is effective until 2030.