The ethanol industry is experimenting with fractionation – separation of the embryo from the rest of the corn kernel. This produces two separate channels:

1) The corn endosperm (starch component representing 85% of the kernel) is channeled into ethanol, feedgrains and other starch-related products

2) The embryo (15% of the kernel) is channeled into oil-related products including biodiesel.

The embryo portion of a corn kernel typically contains about 3.5% oil. A North Korean hybrid is purported to contain 23% oil, or more than a six-fold increase in oil.

This genetic material has come through USDA to Ron Phillips, Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in genomics, of The University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, who is assessing this new source of high oil corn.