New Equipment Strengthens Capabilities at MI’s Marine Bioprocessing Facility
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The team involved in the commissioning work. (L-R) Alfa-Laval Technician Anton Litinov with MI's Marsha Clarke, Julia Pohling and Wade Murphy.

Two new pieces of equipment at the Fisheries and Marine Institute’s (MI) Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development (CASD) are allowing the team to extract valuable by-products from fisheries and aquaculture waste on a much larger scale.

Going forward a new processing line, consisting of a Scraped Surface Heat Exchanger and 3-Phase Decanter Centrifuge will separate fish waste into the components of oil, water, protein and bone at commercial volume.

Equipment Advances

“This is the only processing line of its kind in Atlantic Canada and will be accessible to researchers and industrial clients for research into the full use of marine by-products,” said Wade Murphy, Food Technologist and Marine Bioprocessing Facility Supervisor. “It will also allow us to perform larger-scale studies which will help clients obtain realistic data on yields, product value and investment numbers.”

The new equipment is capable of processing by-product from a variety of industries including aquaculture, inshore fisheries, cod farming, silage and shellfish processing.

“The continuous separation of materials into solid and liquid phases is a critical first step in many industrial processes,” said Julia Pohling, Marine Biotechnologist. “The new equipment will allow for large scale production runs and testing, help confirm the results of lab scale work and provide productions large enough to allow conversion to commercial volumes.”

The Facility

The Marine Bioprocessing team was established in 2001 with the introduction of the pilot processing facility. At that time, the focus was on finding cost neutral solutions for by-products generated from seafood processing.

“Ten years later, the team expanded to include a researcher and biotechnologist which allowed for an increased focus on developing opportunities that add value to the material that seafood processors discard,” continued Mr. Murphy.

In 2013, a research laboratory was added which enhanced the team’s ability to investigate and understand activities on a small scale and to perform composition and quality analysis in-house before moving to pilot scale development. It also allowed for the development of a graduate research program.

Enhanced Equipment

Finding use for by-products generated by the seafood processing industry is essential, particularly as local industry remains competitive in the global market place.

“Our industry is moving from shellfish to ground fish, with cod coming back to commercial volumes,” said Mr. Murphy. “We can no longer process cod in its primary forms which is why we are exploring new opportunities for the maximum use of ground fish.”

The Marine Bioprocessing facility has the capability to develop processes, scale the process up to pilot scale and test the results of this work.  

“The Marine Bioprocessing group offers industry the opportunity to scale up to pilot scale volumes,” said Mr. Murphy. “The results generated from pilot scale production provides industry with a more accurate costing and yield data to allow them to better assess the opportunity.”

The addition of the Alfa-Laval processing line provides the capability to efficiently heat large volumes of material and separate the material into the three phases: light liquids, heavy liquid and solids. Learn more about the process in this short video.

Team Effort

The installation of the new equipment at the Marine Bioprocessing Facility has been a team effort.

“Memorial University’s Technical Services team played a major role in the renovation of our space and the installation of the major components in the newly developed research lab,” said Mr. Murphy. “They completed the installation of the equipment components, working with Alfa Laval engineers on the design of the control panel and Pennecon Industrial on the construction of the panel.”

Funding for this latest equipment was provided by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods under the Fisheries Innovation and Technology Opportunities Program (FTNOP), Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) and provincial department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development.