Protein extraction from biomass in a bioethanol refinery - Possible dietary applications: use as animal feed and potential extension to human consumption
The economy of the production of lignocellulosic ethanol could be supported by the simultaneous use of different components of the biomass other than sugars. Among these, protein is present at high concentration in leaves and is a candidate for different possible utilizations. Among dietary applications, plant protein may be used as animal feed and possibly extended to human consumption, in close similarity to leaf protein concentrates already proposed in the past. This would be especially beneficial for developing countries. For this aim, protein quality plays a crucial role: separating only the noble fraction of protein in biomass and preserving its nutritional value, while simultaneously obtaining good yields and limiting drawbacks on other steps of the production chain is particularly challenging from a technical viewpoint. In this review, we compare the possible extraction of protein from dry biomass with the more commonly studied situation in which freshly harvested material is used, with special focus on dietary implication.