Compound discovered in ethanol wastewater could be liquid gold, University of South Carolina research says | saskNOW | Saskatchewan


Reaney said the application of GPC goes far beyond Alzheimer's disease. He said it can also improve any form of mental health, can be used to enhance performance in athletes and help reverse strength loss in the elderly.

While work is currently underway with Korean companies to potentially commercialize the product, Reaney said ethanol companies operating in Canada that use barley or wheat as feedstock rather than corn would be the best source of the wastewater needed to isolate the compound because they produce large quantities of it every day.

“Each of the ethanol plants has a different process for their wastewater. Pound-Maker Agventures' plant in Lanigan pumps water into the cattle feedlots and the animals thrive when they drink that liquid. It's not wasted because the material is so nutrient-rich that the cows are probably very smart and muscular when they eat it,” he said.

The other two Saskatchewan plants, the Co-Op ethanol complex in Belle Plaine and North West Terminals' plant in Unity, dry the liquid material into a syrup that they pour onto the grain fiber and sell as a livestock feed product called Distillers Dried Grains with Soluble (DDGS). But Reaney says it's a costly process that doesn't yield much profit.

“This material [GPC] will be very widely used and made easily accessible to people who want to improve their nerve health, and there are many reasons why people have problems with nerves and muscles. So from my understanding of the market, this could become a very big home for many grain products,” he said.

“As a producer, I consider fermenting barley and wheat to be more economical than fermenting corn because it produces this product, which is not the case with corn.”

Reaney said his research team has applied for funding from a Korean group. Canada will continue to study the fermentation of barley and wheat, while Korea will conduct in-depth research into the safety, efficacy and application of GPC as a health product.

Reaney said he was amazed that research had now reached a point where the aim was to produce clinically and commercially useful products from stillage, which is now used as animal feed.

“From my perspective, the science of the effects of GPC on health is a big field and what always amazes me is how far-reaching the effects of this one small molecule are. When we started this, the idea came up to treat wastewater to add value to it… I never imagined it could help with strength training, exam performance, Alzheimer's disease and loss of strength in old age.”

He said the products could even be more valuable than the ethanol from the processing plants.