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A fresh source of single-cell protein for the aquafeed sector

1 August 2019, at 6:00am

A new facility that aims to produce single-cell protein for uses including the aquaculture feed industry has recently been completed in China.

The facility, which has been developed by a partnership of Hong Kong-based iCell Sustainable Nutrition Co and Shandong Zhonggu Starch Sugar Co of China (SZSS) will convert nutrients previously lost in the process water into a single-cell protein (SCP) for use in animal feeds. Both companies expect the commercial shipments of the SCP to begin in August.

Single-cell protein from the new plant will be commercially available to the aquafeed sector in August 2019
Single-cell protein from the new plant will be commercially available to the aquafeed sector in August 2019

The facility in Shandong is the second full-scale single-cell protein production facility established by iCell in China, which increases their production capacity to several thousand tonnes per year. The company that holds more than 50 patents throughout the world for the production and use of SCPs in animal and plant nutrition.

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“The SCP from iCell contains high levels of proteins with excellent amino acid profiles and nucleotide content, making it a more cost-effective supplement for animal feed than fish meal. We’ve also found that the SCP from iCell improves an animal’s ability to absorb the proteins and improves feed conversion ratios (FCR) because iCell’s SCP does not contain antigens typically found in plant proteins like soybean meal, making it excellent for aquaculture applications,” said Dr Lijuan Wang, a senior nutritionist with iCell.

iCell now has the capacity to produce "thousands of tonnes" of SCPs
iCell now has the capacity to produce "thousands of tonnes" of SCPs

As a large-scale processor of corn starch in China, SZSS produces three million tonnes of products annually. Every day, the production facility generates more than 10,000 tonnes of nutrient-laden water that requires treatment and disposal, with costs exceeding $300,000 annually.

By converting the previously discarded nutrients found in the effluent water into single-cell proteins for use with animal feed, iCell is helping create sustainable environmental and economic benefits for SZSS.

“iCell is also helping SZSS meet stringent environmental water discharge requirements for liquid waste streams that include nitrogen and phosphorous,” said Jianhua Song.

Producers of animal feedstock are becoming more interested in single-cell protein and beneficial bacteria because it possesses a low raw-material cost, yet has a high nutritional value, making it an ideal product to compensate for a shortage of high-quality protein in feedstock.

To generate single-cell protein products, the nutrient-rich water is run through advanced and patented iCell technologies, such as rapid control fermentation, cell-wall breaking enzymolysis, instantaneous air drying and sterilisation.

iCell has been commercially producing SCP’s for several years and anticipates significant growth in the next 3-5 years with additional projects already in various stages of implementation in multiple countries around the world.