Thursday, September 7, 2017

07/09/2017: A circular bioeconomy future for aquaculture

by Jeremy Tomkinson, Chief Executive, NNFCC

What is the bioeconomy?
According to European Commission the bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy.

As such, aquaculture is intrinsically linked to all the other parts of the sector; from food provision, which is the largest sector of the bioeconomy, to the development of fuels for air, road and marine applications to the generation of new smart materials utilising the chemistry that bio feedstocks bring to the party.

It is here that aquaculture has a huge untapped potential. For example, inroads are already being made into off grid energy production in the UK’s SeaGas project1, which aims to cultivate sugar rich kelp for use as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion. This provides either biogas to use directly for heat and power or via upgrading to pure biomethane that can be directly injected into the grid as a certified green gas or used as a replacement for fossil diesel in HGV’s converted to run on liquified biomethane.

There are wide ranges of research projects worldwide developing commercial routes to exploit the oils found in marine algae. Applications range from large-scale production of aircraft fuels, through Amyris’ trans β Farnesene platform, to the very high value pharmaceutical and nutraceutical oils like EPA and DHA as an alternative to the less sustainable extraction from fish livers.

These synthetic routes allow developers a greater degree of supply chain integration than in the past as specified fatty acids can be ordered on long term, financially sustainable arrangements – which in itself creates additional value2 Outside of the fields of energy and fuels, development continues in the production of plastics from chitosan: a chemical derived from the treatment of shells of crustacean such as shrimp with sodium hydroxide.

One of the advantages of this unusual polymer is that at the end of its useful life it can be recycled via composting operations negating the need for separation and potentially disposal via landfill. It is possibly the only source of a biopolymer containing an amino function, with important applications in the synthetic chemistry industry.3

Circular economy in aquaculture
A circular economy is one where wastes and by-products continue to be utilised and fed back into the economy, creating a self-proliferating loop with minimal waste. For example, it is known that by feeding fish Dried Distillers Grains (DDGS), a by-product from the brewing industry, it is possible in some circumstances for fish to gain body mass at a ratio of around 1:1 for food mass input, resulting in increased yields of fish protein. Contrast this with ratios such as the 1:7 (and up to as high as 1:12) ratio for cattle farming, and the advantage is obvious.

Read the full article, HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
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For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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