Arbiom: Promising LCA data for wood to feed protein

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Iván Jesús Cruz Civieta
© GettyImages/Iván Jesús Cruz Civieta

Related tags novel protein Aquaculture Protein Sustainability

Arbiom says its wood-to-food protein demonstrates lower impact on climate change compared to other proteins, making it one potential candidate to plug the protein gap.

The company’s vision is to use wood to generate sustainable products to address industry challenges, said Marc Chevrel, CEO, Arbiom. 

The Durhan, North Carolina-based agricultural biotechnology company uses a patented enzyme-based process and fermentation to transform wood into products for use in animal feed and food – its first commercial product is SylPro.  

It announced that initial results from a life cycle assessment (LCA) of its alternative feed protein, SylPro, demonstrated that the feed ingredient was more sustainable than a raft of other proteins.

“Arbiom’s goal is to produce a more nutritional, affordable protein, using less resources with less of an impact on the environment,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “We needed a way to measure the sustainability of the products we’re developing, which LCA study results quantify.”

The assessment framework is a common system used to “quantify the environmental impact of a product or material, accounting for the end-to-end lifecycle,”​ he said. “The goal of the study was to measure the environmental performance of SylPro as compared to other new alternatives and conventional sources of protein in terms of sustainability as well as water and land use,” ​he added.

The new assessment reportedly indicates that SylPro provides “a sustainable, new alternative protein source for feed formulators and producers,”​ he said. The news follows previously published outcomes of feeding trials using the protein ingredient in salmon ​and hybrid striped bass​.

“The climate change impact measure is a strong indicator of a product’s sustainability value and is measured by the product’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kg of protein,” ​said Chevrel. “Among all protein sources included in the LCA study, SylPro has the lowest GHG emissions-per-kg protein and therefore lowest contribution to climate change.”

Environmental assessment of the wood to feed protein

Norway-based consultancy agency, Ostfoldforskning, performed the review.

The LCA methodology used for the study calculations was designed to focus on six particularly relevant environmental impact categories as identified in The Product Environmental Footprint Category rules (PEFCR) for feed for food-producing animals, (FEFAC, 2018).

SylPro was compared to several other proteins commonly used in feed including fish meal, soy protein concentrate, rapeseed meal, insect meal and single-cell protein generated from methane.

“The LCA results are valuable for our team as we now have visibility into what parts of the production process are driving the product’s environmental impact profile compared to other proteins,” ​he said. “Therefore, the LCA will inform continued improvements to both the process and end product, as Arbiom scales-up through a demonstration program”

The methodology used to assess the protein focuses on six categories of environmental influence including “climate change, land use, water scarcity, respiratory inorganics, eutrophication terrestrial & acidification terrestrial and freshwater,”​ he said.

“The LCA study accounted for all unit operations in Arbiom’s production process to produce SylPro from wood biomass including wood sourcing from forests to a representative Arbiom commercial unit, all energy and material use in each production step, the production of the energy and material sources themselves, [and] transportation to end use in aquafeed,”​ Chevrel said.

Among various environmental impact indicators, climate change was scrutinized according to IPCC2013 100 yr v.1.03 (Reference IPCC 2013), said the producer.

Scale-up process

Along with the sustainability assessment, Arbiom is continuing to work through its scale-up plan, said Chevrel. The company is generating tonnage amounts of SylPro while working with partner facilities to support commercial trials this year.

The company ran four feeding trials on SylPro in 2019 intended to confirm the protein’s nutritional performance, he said. Those projects demonstrated consistent results for growth, digestibility and gut health benefits for multiple species, it said.

It is also working through a Demonstration program as part of the growth process, he said. “This is a three-year initiative which began in 2019 and includes continued R&D and engineering activities to confirm data and information required to design the first commercial-scale plant.

“The program also encompasses market validation of SylPro through trials with customers,”​ he added. 

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