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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Production of an oil rich in C-20 polyunsaturated fatty acids by fermentation of whey
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Whey disposal and its associated costs have been long standing problems for the diary industry. Previous research efforts towards greater utilization of whey through biological processes have emphasized low value products such as propionic acid, lactic acid or ethanol. Recently, our engineers have developed a whey-based microbial route to production of an oil rich in the much more valuable eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a twenty carbon, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, along with arachidonic acid and other shorter chain fatty acids. Only traces of fatty acids with greater than twenty carbons are produced. EPA has uses in the food and pharmaceutical industries and the oil itself, along with the other fatty acids; could find other industrial uses held traditionally by marine oils and marine oil products. The process consists of fermentation, filtration, and co-current wet milling and solvent extraction that has, in some cases, produced an oil with up to 25% EPA. The total polyunsaturated fatty acid content is approximately 50%.

Patent Status:
U.S. Patent 5,246,842 issued September 21, 1993.

Technology Transfer Contact:
Victor (Vic) Chavez
(215) 233-6610


Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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