Arbiom's wood-to-feed technology has been shown to run smoothly and continuously, a critical requirement for upscaling. Photo: Arbiom.

Production milestone for wood-to-feed producer

US biotech company Arbiom, which is developing solutions to convert wood into protein for aquafeed and other applications, has reached a milestone in its demonstration programme by completing continuous, stable operation of its fermentation technology over a seven-day period without contamination or product quality issues, it said in a press release.

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Fermentation and downstream process stages ran smoothly and continuously to successfully produce more than half a tonne of its SylPro protein, which exceeded Arbiom’s initial target.

To complete the continuous run, Arbiom worked with BBEPP, a partner in the SYLFEED Consortium, at BBEPP’s facility in Belgium. SYLFEED is a European Union-funded four-year project aimed at scaling up Arbiom’s wood-to-food technology to convert wood residues into a protein-rich ingredient comprised of single cell protein (SCP) and test it in aquaculture applications.

'A viable alternative'

In July this year SYLFEED said it had begun trials on the digestibility of SylPro for Atlantic salmon, which followed earlier growth trials on salmon, Nile tilapia and sea bass.

The tilapia trial involved including SylPro at levels of 0%, 10%, 20% and 30%, replacing a plant protein mix comprised of corn gluten meal, soybean meal and sunflower meal. The fish meal content of the diets remained constant.

Results showed the replacement of the plant protein mix by SylPro showed no statistical difference in performance compared to conventional protein ingredients in terms of fish growth rates, measured in body weight gain, of the Nile tilapia at up to a 30% inclusion level in the diets.

“These results build on findings from previous growth trial studies of SylPro in aquafeed diets for Atlantic salmon and hybrid striped bass,” said Arbiom CEO Marc Chevrel, who said the firm’s technology and flagship product “consistently demonstrate that we can offer a viable alternative protein source for the aquaculture and animal feed industries”.

Scaling up

The company said that transitioning from batch to continuous operations is essential in scaling-up its industrial biotechnology to commercial production, as it strongly improves process economics of a representative commercial production facility.  

Continuous operation of the fermentation process in partnership with BBEPP is a significant achievement in commercialising the company’s technology to economically produce SylPro, Arbiom said.

Significant achievement

“This significant achievement is a testament to our strong collaboration with Arbiom and the dedication of everyone on the team,” said Muriel Dewilde, business development manager with BBEPP. “We look forward to working with Arbiom to build on this successful demonstration as the company continues to scale-up its process technology.”

Arbiom chief executive Marc Chavrel said: “We are very pleased to have achieved this latest advancement in commercialisation of Arbiom’s technology, with continuous operation and stable, robust process performance, at demonstration-scale.”

To date, Arbiom has completed more than 1,500 hours of process scale-up operations. By the end of 2020 Arbiom will have run its bioconversion process continuously at the 15m³ scale (15,000 litres) as part of the critical path within the demonstration programme, the company said.