Half a million tonnes of new by-product protein feed for industry

Published 27 August 13

A newly opened £350 million bioethanol plant in Hull will significantly increase supply of wheat distillers’ pellets and syrup to the British dairy industry.

The Vivergo Fuels plant, a joint venture between AB Sugar, BP and DuPont, will be capable of producing around 420 million litres of bioethanol each year when at full capacity, a volume equal to one third of the UK’s current demand.

While the fuel will offer greenhouse gas savings in excess of 50% over standard petrol – equivalent to the current annual emissions of more than 180,000 cars – milk producers will be more interested in the 500,000 tonnes (fresh weight) of high energy 34-35% DM crude protein wheat distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) the plant will also produce when fully operational.

The use of distillery co-products in the production of animal feeding stuffs in Great Britain has doubled over the past five years, reaching 380,000 tonnes in 2012 according to Defra.  The recent resurgence of malting, especially for whisky production, has increased the supply of barley distillers grains, and the uptake of bioethanol production has added UK-produced wheat DDGS in the last couple of years. The UK also imports maize and wheat DDGS from Europe and the US.

According to Trident general manager Richard Cross, at full capacity the new Hull plant should produce a feed volume sufficient to provide a potential 10% of the concentrate requirements of the GB dairy herd.

He says: “As a cost-effective source of both energy and protein, using UK wheat distillers to replace combinations of cereals, rapemeal and soyabean meal could cut feed costs by up to 15p/cow/day*.

“Not only that, it will also reduce reliance on imported, less sustainable sources of protein like soyabean meal.”

AHDB R&D manager Dr Jenny Gibbons say the goal of replacing imported feedstuffs is only achievable if all manufacturing processes are optimised to retain the co-product’s maximum nutritive value.

“This is why a research project looking at getting the most from wheat DDGS in dairy, beef and pig production is a key focus area for AHDB and a number of its divisions.” 

She says the project aims to understand the impact of variabilities in quality of grain supplies and look at opportunities to enhance nutritional value.  “It will also quantify the contribution that co-product use makes to the overall greenhouse gas balance of UK crop, livestock and ethanol production.”

Find out more about Environmental and nutritional benefits of Bioethenol co-products project

* Cost savings calculated using prices correct at the time of writing and subject to change, based on 29t tipped bulk loads delivered on-farm within 50 miles of origin.