14th Dec, 2005: Sothwest City, Mo. - Five years after a demonstration in a pickle jar atop a workbench, a scientist holds a patent on a system that Simmons Foods Inc. managers say eliminates poultry-plant pollution.
Company Chairman Mark Simmons told visitors to the Southwest City plant Tuesday that scientist John Lee's invention will eliminate the odor and wastewater-disposal problems that plague poultry-processing plants.
"We've taken the waste to make a valuable product, a feed ingredient for animals and fish," said Simmons.
Around 50 representatives of local governments, civic groups and other poultry companies toured the plant to learn more Tuesday.
Lee, of Rigel Technology Corp., created a procedure that mixes poultry-plant waste products, which are blood and skimmings, to make a nutrient-rich substance resembling fine red sand that can be added to agricultural and aquatic feed, said Simmons.
Simmons Foods patented the substance, naming it Pro-Cal for its high protein and calories. The Pro-Cal plant, in a new $10 million building, will begin operation in early 2006 on the Simmons site in Southwest City.
The project was slated to begin operation in late 2005 but was delayed because of hurricanes, said Pro-Cal accounting manager Bill Barnes. Some of the system equipment was made in Holland and England, he said.
"This is the only production facility in the United States today," said Gene Woods, president of Simmons protein operations. "We suspect in a few years, there will be a lot more of them."
Woods began working with Lee in May 2001 to develop the process that combines and dries the poultry waste products. In 2002, Simmons built a pilot plant within the current plant. After hundreds of tests, the final Pro-Cal product was achieved while eliminating odors and wastewater, Woods said.
"Mark (Simmons) was adamant that we were not going to build a plant where we couldn't control the odors or the contaminants," Woods said. He said the operation incinerates odorous vapors and liquids.
Pro-Cal is marketed as a feed additive, and is being sold now to a Kansas dairy feed mill and Fairland Feed Mill, which makes poultry feed, said Terry Graham, Pro-Cal plant manager.
The product is about 48 percent protein and 35 percent fat, with a 6 percent moisture content. Graham said it can be fed safely to birds, livestock and fish.
State Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, said the plant opening is an important event in his district. "Simmons," he said, "is trying to do the right thing for the environment."
Southwest City Mayor Ryan McKee, also a Simmons electrician, said the Pro-Cal operation will solve a lot of the complaints he hears about plant odor and wastewater.
McDonald County Commissioners Gayle Brock and Bill Wilson also expressed positive opinions of the project.
Brock, who raises hogs and cattle, said he is pro-industry, and he views Pro-Cal as a good addition to the community and the county. He said he predicts it won't be long until all area farmers are adding the product to their feed.