special edition: feed protein innovation

Trials underway on Arbiom's wood to feed protein ingredient

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/photosbyjim
© GettyImages/photosbyjim

Related tags Protein wood

Arbiom, a developer of non-food biomass processing technology, announced last month that it had successfully produced tonnage quantities of its high protein feed ingredient derived from wood at a combined 80,000-L industrial fermentation scale, with partners globally.

Anthony Scime, senior VP of business development at Arbiom, told FeedNavigator the tonnage produced represents a significant production milestone for the company and provides it with substantial volumes of SylPro, an enhanced strain of torula yeast (Candida utilis​), for use in animal trials as well as for customer sampling.

“We have done multiple fermentations, both at the 10 cubic meter and the 20 cubic meter sizes, at external facilities, in both Europe and the US.”

The company’s single cell protein (SCP) technology combines woody biomass fractionation and bioprocessing expertise to produce SylPro from wood residues and by-products.

The product represents a more sustainable alternative to conventional protein sources, with minimal impact on the environment and less land and water required to meet the growing protein deficit, claims Arbiom.

It has been developed to solve the challenges of protein sourcing and improve gut health for aquaculture and livestock producers, added the producer.

Animal feeding trials

The company has also made progress on its animal performance and digestibility trials, said Arbiom’s animal nutrition director, Dr Ricardo Ekmay.

Some trials started last year, others are just getting underway, he added.

The company has been generating data, for example, on the nutritional quality of SylPro as a protein source for fish species such as hybrid striped bass; it collaborated with Texas A&M on those studies.

“The initial data on hybrid striped bass has started to trickle in and it looks very promising.”

It has also been trialing the product in weanling pigs at the University of Illinois. “We see a good fit for a high quality protein in this space.”

Trials with the wood derived feed protein in salmon are now getting underway with one of its partners in the EU-funded SYLFEED​ project - the Icelandic research institute, Matis. That institute will also trial the product in tilapia in March this year, said Ekmay.

Again, on the aquaculture front, INRA in France will carry out a study of the product in Rainbow Trout in August 2019, he said.

The use of the protein ingredient in cat and dog diets is also being evaluated in two separate studies this year.

“Obviously, we are getting the necessary baseline nutritional data that is required for any kind of novel ingredient, growth performance, FCR, feed intake, the maximum inclusion level, and things of that nature, but we are also very interested in evaluating the impact of SylPro on gut health characteristics. We know that is a hot topic and something that formulators are paying more attention to; we want to make sure we have a good understanding of where SylPro sits in relation to that.”

Material handling trial

Arbiom has also carried out another piece of research with Texas A&M in an attempt to determine how easy the wood derived ingredient is to use in terms of feed processing.

“One aspect of novel feed ingredients that tends to get neglected is their functional characteristics as they relate to feed milling operations, their flowability, how well they extrude, those type of questions. Therefore, we spent a fair bit of time and effort evaluating those characteristics of SylPro. Texas A&M did a kind of cradle to grave evaluation of it [in that respect]. The results are very exciting.”

Ekmay said the research showed SylPro is free flowing, that it is well suited to extrusion applications across a range of conditions, and that it has positive effects on pellet quality. He is presenting detailed data on those findings at Aquaculture 2019 in New Orleans.

Capital outlay

Arbiom’s SCP technology’s was chosen as one of the 10 finalists in Nutreco’s Feed Tech Challenge last year.

The jury were looking for the most promising solutions to deal with antimicrobial resistance, feed-to-farm efficiency and young animal nutrition. Looking at the capital outlay required to go to market, the jury said Arbiom’s SCP production had high capital needs.

Scime weighed in on that:

“One of the critiques brought up in the Nutreco Challenge​ was the capital intensity of the [product] development itself was fairly high, and that it would be beneficial to de-risk that, to bring down the capital intensity.  

“We’ve taken that to heart, and we are actually looking at a couple of different ways to reduce the capital intensity, particularly on the demonstration side of things. We are working with our partners, and we expect to have something to say on that in late February or early March that will address this issue."

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