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Arbiom to Lead European “Wood-to-Food” Project

By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer

Wood, the traditional source of pulp, paper, packaging, biofuels and other industrial products, may soon find its way into fish feed bins and onto dinner plates with the use of new processing technologies developed by a North Carolina biotechnology company.

Arbiom, headquartered in Durham near Research Triangle Park, will lead a $12.6 million collaborative project in Europe to convert wood into food. It will partner with seven companies and research institutes from five European countries “to demonstrate the wood-to-food value chain,” the company said in a news release.

The project, called SYLFEED, will use Arbiom’s biomass fractionation technology to convert lignocellulose – the bulk of tree and other plant matter – into SylPro, a protein-rich ingredient that will be used in aquaculture feed and other feed and food applications.

"The SYLFEED project puts a new spin on the bio-economy,” said Marc Chevrel, chief operating officer of Arbiom. “Lignocellulose is not only a sustainable solution for the chemicals and fuels industries, but it can be used as a scalable and sustainable solution to the world’s growing food-sourcing problems.”

The project will include construction of a demonstration plant in eastern France, co-located with a pulp and paper plant.

“The demonstration plant and complete coverage of the value chain will allow us to prove the viability of our new SylPro product and wood-to-food approach on a commercial scale,” Chevrel said.

The project is funded with a €10.9 million grant (about $12.6 million at the current exchange rate) from the European Union’s Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking. Arbiom will get the majority of the funding, €8.5 million, or about $9.9 million.

The project will produce feed ingredients by growing protein-rich microorganisms on pre-processed woody biomass. The concept has been demonstrated at pilot scale, and the SYLFEED project will aim to improve the process for commercial-scale production.

The project brings together partners covering all steps of the process:

  • Biomass sourcing and industrial-scale processing by Norske Skog Golbey, one of the leading newsprint producers in Europe
  • Biomass fractionation and conversion into microbial proteins by Arbiom
  • Phosphoric acid processing and industrial scale-up by Prayon, a global leader in phosphoric acid
  • Advanced expertise in microbial protein production by the Swedish research center RISE Processum
  • Fish feed formulation and trials by Iceland research institute Matis
  • Lifecycle analysis by Norwegian firm Østfoldforskning
  • Final validation of the product by aquaculture companis Laxa and Skretting (through the R&D unit, Skretting Aquaculture Center AS), global leaders in fish feed production

The SYLFEED project builds on years of development and collaboration between the partners. Arbiom and Norske Skog Golbey previously partnered on an 18-month pre-study.

The project is a response to the world’s growing food-protein deficit. Demand for protein is expected to grow by more than 70 percent by 2050, when the world population is expected to reach 9 billion, according to a report by the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

Arbiom is focused on transforming wood – the world’s most sustainable and readily available carbon source – into intermediate materials for applications in the feed, food and chemicals industries. Its technology platform integrates proprietary enzyme technologies and biomass-processing expertise.

Arbiom was founded outside of Paris in Evry, France, and operates a pilot plant in Norton, Va.



With what enzyme? What is happening? This press release doesn't actually say. What is sylfeed? What have you invented?

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