A PROTEIN FOR OUR FUTURE
Empyreal 75 Made of fire and a world apart’
by Roger Gilbert, Publisher, International Aquafeed
International Aquafeed magazine was invited to tour the production facility for a unique aquaculture protein product, at the remarkable Cargill production plant in Blair, Nebraska, USA.
hat is in a name? - Take Empyreal® for example. Was it introduced into our consciousness simply to brand a new product coming onto the market and required a catchy new name? No, there appears to be more to it than that, a lot more to it. ‘Empyreal’ carries the meaning, in both Greek and Latin, ‘of the highest heaven’ or ‘the celestial, sublime or exalted.’ It is ‘of the sky’ or ‘of the heaven’ and is ‘made of pure fire’! An impressive meaning to be given to a product in our industry! But can any product live up to such formidable claims or association, you may ask? Surprisingly, we at International Aquafeed and our sister publication Milling and Grain, think it can and will. The product is a revolutionary vegetable protein. Protein is the building block of human civilization itself. Without protein and the right kind of proteins in their amino acid profiles, we would not have achieved our current intelligence nor status within our small galaxy, nor can we expect to maintain that position over time without increasing the supply of the highest-quality proteins for our domesticated livestock and fish production and in turn ourselves. Empyreal® 75 carries the meaning behind the word, and is the brand name for this ‘new’ protein product that is at last being produced in volume, efficiently and economically and is finding growing demand within the global aquafeed processing industry and is creating demand and application in intensive livestock production systems. As it says on the label, this product has a 75 percent, highly digestive protein content with an attractive amino acid profile that is made from that humble maize or corn kernel that in its natural stage contains just eight percent protein. Producing a concentrated protein from maize or a corn-gluten meal is not new, but never at the concentration above 75 percent that is being achieved today.
The technology behind the processing - “Is staggering”
Milling and Grain and International Aquafeed magazines were given a unique opportunity to tour the production facility
manufacturing this unique product at the massive Cargill production plant in Blair, Nebraska, USA; which is located right at the western edge of the corn belt and is adjacent to the UnionPacific Railroad, the Missouri River and US Highway 30. From across the valley the plant could be mistaken for a traditional chemical plant and consisting of silver silos, glinting pipework and masses of stainless-steel buildings. There is a regular convoy of trucks entering and leaving the site. Cargill’s Blair plant is sited on 250ha in an attractive, farming environment with hardly another building in sight. We were hosted around the plant, referred to as a ‘campus’, by the company’s Product Line team headed by Jered Anderson, who has overall responsibility for the production of ‘Empyreal 75’. Included in our group were Claudio Paredes, global aquaculture sales director, Michael Klapperich, director of sales in North America and responsible for Empyreal product distribution and Eric Bell, AVP product line manager from Cargill Starches and Sweeteners North America. ‘Empyreal 75’ is one of many products from this plant, with additional products produced by a number of independent and joint-venture companies operating from the ‘campus’ site, and utilising the infrastructure and the various products of the corn milling process. Plant construction started in 1992 and started grinding corn in 1995. With over a billion dollars invested in this site so far, it is one of Cargill’s largest investments, which has had various expansions over the past 20 years. Each day the plant consumes thousands of tonnes of corn to manufacture various products. It operates 24-hours per day for 365 days a year. It employs 550 permanent staff and almost 400 on-site contractors. It has a dedicated team of pipe fitters, electricians and mechanics and other services contracted to maintain production and resolve issues should they arise.
Cargill has hundreds of trucks coming into the facility each day unloading locally sourced corn from the farmer, which is crucial to keep the non-stop facility running at full capacity. There are five main elements that are used in the refining process of corn, four of these are within the kernel itself: starch (63%), protein (8%), fibre (10%), and germ (4%). Moisture (15%) is needed to soften and separate the kernel into these four
20 | July 2017 - International Aquafeed