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jueves, 1 de febrero de 2018

The construction of the algal oil biorefinery of Veramaris is on track

Type of post: NEWS.

DSM and Evonik announced their intention to start Veramaris in March 2017 (see post, 13/3/2017) but the official launch of this joint venture took place two day ago (see press release, 30/1/2018) after receiving all necessary approvals. The new company is focused on the production of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from natural marine algae for animal nutrition.

The press release contains some details about its first production facility:
Evonik site in Blair (Nebraska, USA).
Production capacity
The initial annual production capacity will meet roughly 15% of the total current annual demand for EPA and DHA by the salmon aquaculture industry.
200 M$.
- Construction has commenced and is proceeding according to plan.
- Commercial quantities of the algal oil will be ready for sale in 2019 (pilot quantities for market development purposes are already available.).

And, these are the key points of the process:
Raw materials
- Sugar: dextrose obtained from locally sourced corn.
-  Marine algae: the algal strain Schizochytrium sp. is cultivated in the Nebraska plant.
During the fermentation process, the algae cells multiply exponentially and convert dextrose into omega-3 fatty acids, which accumulate in oil vesicles.
The Schizochytrium has the advantage of producing both EPA and DHA in high concentrations (exceeds 50%).
The cell wall is broken and the oil vesicles are separated from the aqueous phase. Residual water is removed from the oil by centrifugation and the end result is a highly concentrated algal oil and a liquid co-product.
The liquid co-product can be used as a protein source in beef cattle feed. Alternatively, it can be converted into biogas for electricity production.

Figure 1. Simplified flow diagram of the algal oil production process (extracted from Veramaris website)

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA added to animal feed are almost exclusively from marine sources. Currently, a total of 16 million metric tons of wild fish are caught for the production of fish oil and fishmeal. By using natural marine algae, Veramaris contributes to closing the omega-3 EPA and DHA supply-demand gap, while helping to conserve marine life and biodiversity in the oceans.

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