Industrial Water
Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Boost for animal feed from wastewater tech

A novel process for producing high protein animal feed from wastewater treatment is set for roll out across Thailand after a new cooperation deal was signed between technology pioneers iCell Sustainable and Thailand’s Charoen Popkhand Group.

Novel tech creating value from wastewater

Singapore-based iCell Sustainable Nutrition has developed what it claims is a unique patented technology that enables single cell protein production from organic materials derived from wastewater treatment. 

Focused on nutrient-rich waste streams from industrial applications like brewing and food manufacturing, the technology supports new revenue streams that create value from water. 

Producing new protein products with good nutritional value for animal and aquaculture feeds, the iCell biological process dramatically reduces waste. 

A combination of biological growth, cell wall extraction, enzymatic fractionating and protein concentration techniques, the resulting Single Cell Protein (SCP) product is a cost-effective but high-value ingredient for animal feed. 

Hi-TechPro is a version of the product for piglet feed while its X30 formula is designed for shrimp, for example.

Now, iCell has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Thailand’s Chia Tai Henning Modern Agricultural Technology (CP Henning), a Charoen Pokphand Group subsidiary. 

Under the terms of the long-term cooperation the parties plan to jointly work on using by-products derived from CP Group’s agricultural and animal husbandry food enterprises.

CP Group aims to achieve high value-added utilization of the nutrients and by-products in process water discharged from the company’s slaughtering and food subsidiaries as well as its joint venture companies in China. 

Indeed, China is a key focus for the roll-out of the technology although additional facilities are planned in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

“CP Group aims to achieve high value-added utilization of the nutrients and by-products in process water discharged from the company’s slaughtering and food subsidiaries as well as its joint venture companies in China.”

“By using iCell’s industrial and international leading biotechnology, our plants will achieve successful production of the single-cell protein (SCP), a feed ingredient to be used in our own feed mills, through resourceful utilization of organic process wastewater discharged from our food plants with clean and purified water effluent recycled back to the workshops for rinsing and washing, which will… eliminate pollution, reduce our carbon footprint and the operating cost, realize a profound dual-circulation of nutrients and water,” said Li Sumei, COO of CP Henning.

“With CP, a leading conglomerate in animal nutrition industry, we look forward to the cooperation with them to achieve resourceful utilization of waste nutrients from CP plants and meanwhile create a novel and sustainable source of SCP proteins for CP feed mills,” added Mark Rottmann, CEO of iCell.

Enhancing value from wastewater

The deal with CP Henning follows on from a similar deal in the US where iCell is looking to develop a new facility in the northeast to support eel aquaculture. 

Hong Kong-based iCell subsidiary announced late last year that on-site pilot work is to begin for a 1,000 tonne eel aquaculture project. The measures will support the water treatment needs of multiple seafood processors while providing additional capacity that will allow the processors to increase throughput. Currently these ambitions are constrained by water treatment costs and related effluent regulations. 

iCell selected Georgia’s Woodruff and Howe Engineering (WHEE) to design and develop projects using its patented process technology. The agreement between the two firms will see WHEE manage site evaluation and engineering design for iCell systems across the USA. 

“When we learned of the iCell solution, we considered it a potential new tool for the food processing industry – it takes water and nutrient recycling to a new level,” said Steven Woodruff, CEO of WHEE, in a statement. 

“Together we have already identified various sites where this new solution could benefit our food processing customer base, and will benefit the environment as well. This technology also has the potential to enhance food processors’ goals for environmental sustainability, water recycling, and nutrient recovery and beneficial reuse. We have built a mobile pilot system and have successfully ran the iCell process on food processing waste-water streams,” added Woodruff.

Although the city and state for the eel project have not be identified to date, iCell says it is working on food process water treatment issues at various sites in the USA. iCell also currently operates three large-scale commercial facilities across Asia.

“WHEE is the perfect selection for this work, this will accelerate our speed to completion as they have a laser like customer focus and understand the value of the iCell solution in the market place,” observed iCell’s Rottmann.

“This technology has the potential to enhance food processors’ goals for environmental sustainability, water recycling, and nutrient recovery and beneficial reuse.”

Financing wastewater tech

Rolling out its technology has also seen iCell look to the markets for capital finance. Last year the company retained Lighthouse Finance, a global seafood and aquaculture advisory company, for the purpose of exploring capital solutions in relation to its business development goals.

iCell is targeting approximately US$50 million in new financing that will be used for working capital and investment for joint ventures and water treatment facilities beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

The organisation expects to have its first integrated US aquaculture project announced shortly. This project will see a unique water recycling, protein production and aquaculture facility all occupy the same site. 

Future food processing plants, for example those developed by CP Holdings, are also expected to take into account the requirements of iCell technology to allow effective treatment of complex wastewater streams containing compound mixtures as part of the design and construction process. 

It is clear that using novel biological treatment systems has the potential to enable resource recycling. This not only reduces the cost of sewage treatment but also reduces pollution, the carbon footprint and lowers operating costs throughout the animal husbandry and aquaculture sectors.

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