SAM Electron Techologies, which has its headquarters in Shawinigan, Canada, developed a cerium mediator electrochemical technology (CeTECH) for the production of value added compounds without the need for chromium and an oxidising agent nor the generation of chromium by-products. The acquisition looks set to position the Swiss chemicals group as a leading force in vitamin K production - initially for animal nutrition but likely, further down the line, for human nutrition too. The commercial viability of the technology, described as "a closed system regenerating the cerium with an innovative cell design", has been demonstrated on a commercial scale for vitamin K3. A spokesperson for the company told NutraIngredients.com that although the initial benefits will be in vitamin K3 for the animal nutrition market, the technology could be adapted for vitamins K1 and K2 for human nutrition. "This would come in time," she said. SAM's plant - which Lonza is to lease from the City of Shawinigan, has an annual capacity of 400 metric tons of K3 derivatives, but Lonza has said it "can be quickly expanded to achieve higher capacities". The value of the acquisition has not been disclosed. Roman Quinter, head of Lonza's Nutrition Business Unit, said: "Lonza is excited about integrating this operation into our overall business portfolio and we are eager to begin working with the SAM team to maximise the production and begin supplying to the global market." Moreover, the Shawinigan facility is expected to be a good complement to Lonza's nicotinate and L-carnitine facilities in Switzerland, Czech Republic and China. In the last couple of years Lonza has sought to stride out with its nutrition interests from its stable of nutrition offerings consisting of vitamin B3, and L-carnitine to food and supplement makers. In late-2005 acquisition of microalgae DHA operator Nutrinova, and in 2006 it bought the larch arabinogalactan (LAG) assets of US firm Larex Inc, said in February to have been fully integrated into the Lonza fold and delivering sales slightly above expectations due to volume increases. Lonza's nutrition activities fall within its Organic and Fine Chemicals division, which reported a stable year with operating income of CHF130m, similar to last year's level. But while sales were up 10.5 per cent on 2005 to CHF1.075bn, operating margin slipped over one per cent to 12.1 per cent. This was explained by a "time lag between the increases in raw material and sales prices".