From experiment to enterprise: The Micronutrients story
In 1992, Heritage Environmental Services, LLC of Indianapolis, IN launched a research project with the hopes of developing a process to reclaim the copper from byproducts of the manufacturing of printed circuit boards.
The project resulted in the development of dicopper chloride trihydroxide crystals. Because of their neutrality, insolubility in water and high copper content, these crystals were studied as a potential source of nutritional copper in animal diets.
After numerous trials and overcoming several hurdles, the initial pilot plant was converted to run as a miniature production facility. It was during this time that a proprietary process was refined for using two types of spent etching solutions (material used in manufacturing electronic printed wiring boards). As it turned out, these spent etchants could be reacted to produce a copper crystal matching the desired basic copper chloride formula.
The result? The spent etchants from printed wiring boards that were once considered waste could now be recycled to make trace mineral copper.
Upon receiving a favorable opinion letter from the FDA on the safety of using basic copper chloride as a nutrient in animal feed, the pilot plant output was test marketed in the animal feed industry as Micronutrients TBCC® (TBCC) and an innovative new feed additive was born.
This new feed additive entered a market of minerals that were generally defined as either organic or inorganic. And while technically an inorganic mineral, TBCC displayed several key performance attributes typically associated with organic minerals.
Taking a closer look at what distinguished these behaviors led to a whole new way of looking at trace minerals. The true differentiator of performance between various trace mineral sources was bond strength. And this new category, called hydroxy trace minerals, employed specific “smart” bonds that were strong enough to remain intact in animal feed and the upper gastrointestinal tract while remaining ideal for optimal absorption in the lower part of the intestines of the animal.