The Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Corn Marketing Board have created a new “for profit” corporation to commercialize high value co-products related to ethanol production.
According to a press release, the company known as Prairie Gold, Inc., “has licensed technology from the University of Illinois in order to develop and commercialize ethanol co-product processes and production. The research, funded in part by Illinois corn farmers through the corn checkoff program, uses low-energy technology that is cutting-edge to purify the oil, zein and xanthophyll products.”
Included in Prairie Gold’s mission is development and marketing of new biodegradable products in the food, nutraceutical, and plastic’s marketplace. The technology involves extracting a solvent soluble protein (zein) from corn prior to fermentation in a dry grind ethanol plant. This protein has been the subject in more than 3400 patents since 1976 and has the potential to become many things such as: biodegradable plastic, food and paper coatings, chewing gum base, biodegradable textile fiber, pharmaceutical encapsulation for time release medicines and much more.