Patexia Contest


This contest is closed.

Seth W Perry

Runner Up
Runner Up

Roopa V

Runner Up

Simon Sunatori



Patexia contests ask you to find, submit, and explain references that respond to our research criteria. If you are new, see patent and prior art basics and tips for Patexia's prior art contests, and refer to the submission notes below. The following questions will help you understand specifically what we are looking for in this study.

In this contest we are seeking prior art; published examples of an idea or invention before a specific date.

Problem Definition
Patexia seeks prior art for US Patents  7,601,858 (‘858) - “Method of processing ethanol byproducts and related subsystems,” 8,008,516 (‘516) - “Method or processing ethanol byproducts and related subsystems,” 8,008,517 (‘517) - “Method of recovering oil from thin stillage,” 8,283,484 (‘484) - “Methods of processing ethanol byproducts and related subsystems,” and 8,168,037 (‘037) - “Method and systems for enhancing oil recovery from ethanol production byproducts.

The patents allegedly describe a process for mechanically separating oil from the byproducts of ethanol production. The basic ethanol production process has been illustrated in Figure 1 below and operates and follows:

  • Corn is ground, cooked, and fermented.
  • The resulting ethanol alcohol is distilled, leaving behind the corn mash (whole stillage).
  • A large portion of the remaining solids (distillers wet grains) is removed from the whole stillage, leaving behind thin stillage (water + oil + small solids).
  • Thin stillage is condensed into a syrup, which has a moisture content of around 90% (usually between 60% - 90%), by heating and evaporating.
  • The syrup is typically around 180°F with a pH between 3.0 – 6.0 when coming from the evaporators.
  • Oil or an oily emulsion is mechanically separated from the syrup by gravitational force, such as centrifugation.

Figure 1: Method of Processing Ethanol Byproducts

An optimal submission will contain non-patent literature, including but not limited to products, textbooks, or common cultural practices. Such an embodiment of the technology could be fermenting and heating plant or animal matter and then separating oil from the remaining matter using gravitational forces (e.g. settling, centrifugation, decanting, etc…)

Have a question about this contest? Ask a Question


1Was the source published (or filed if a patent) before August 17th, 2004? 0
2Does the source describe removing or distilling alcohol from fermented animal or plant material? 15
3Does the source describe using heating and evaporation to create a concentrate of the material remaining after distilling the alcohol? 15
4If the source does not describe fermenting, does the source describe using heat and evaporation to create a concentrate from the plant or animal material? 15
5Does the source describe the mechanical separation of oil or an oily emulsion from the concentrate using gravitational forces? 15
6Specifically, does the source describe the separation of oil or an oily emulsion from the concentrate by centrifugation? 25
7If the source discloses separation of an oily emulsion, does the source describe any means for breaking the emulsion before or during separation from the concentrate? 15

Additional Notes

Submission Notes

  • The submission deadline is 11:59 PM PST on November 7th, 2013.
  • Entries must be in English.
  • All questions should be answered (yes or no) based on your reference(s).
  • All answers should include a clear explanation of how each reference directly answers the questions.
  • If you do not provide adequate explanations for your answers, your entry will not be considered for a prize or in the final contest rankings.
  • We use a mathematical model to favor submissions that use fewer references to answer all of the contest questions. For example, if you used two references to answer all questions correctly your score will be higher than someone who used three references to answer all questions correctly.
  • When submitting foreign references, please provide a translation of key sections in the explanation box.
  • The first submission to receive the highest score will receive 80% of the total prize.
  • Up to 8 runners up will also receive a minimum of $100.
  • If the winning entrant was referred by another user, a $320 referral prize will be subtracted from the winner’s 80% award and given to whomever was responsible for the referral.
  • Please use “Ask a Question” to post general questions or feedback about the contest to the community.
  • For specific questions, you can contact us directly by email at
  • All submissions are subject to Patexia's contest legal terms. Failure to follow these rules may lead to disqualification from the contest.
  • Winner selection is based entirely on community responses to Patexia's research questions and does not constitute a legal opinion on patent validity or related litigation.