Advanced refinement of fish oils using ceramic membranes

Development of a new technology for the refinement of fish oils to create higher value added products based on advanced ceramic membranes. This process will be developed and validated by experiments at laboratory and pilot scale and optimised in an industrial test unit.

OBJECTIVES The main objective of the project is to make NORWAY and FRANCE more competitive in the fish and fish processing markets and more environmentally friendly nations. This will be done by the development of technology for refinement of fish oils to higher value-added products and for extracting valuable fractions from fish waste streams. The technical objective of the project is to find ceramic membranes that can be applied efficiently in a full scale membrane system producing fish oils according to defined requirements, including eliminating as much as possible of free fatty acids and unwanted substances from the selected fish oil content. Specifically we will: * Define specifications of the improved fish oil(s). * Identify or develop the ceramic membranes capable of meeting the defined specifications of fish oil(s). This work includes finding pore-sizes and surface characteristics needed, corresponding to the specific oil components treated. * Via pilot testing and engineering to develop the membrane system design for efficient manufacturing of the specified improved fish oil(s). BACKGROUND - STATE-OF-THE-ART The benefits of fish oils and their components to humans and animals are getting more evident. Indeed, fish oils are an important source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and are now widely used in health and nutrition. For a long time, these molecules were shown to be of great importance in the prevention of a number of diseases such as inflammation, hypotriglycerimedic effects, allergy, diabetes or coronary heart disease. The technology for oil production has often been developed for other types of oils including vegetable oils and the process sizes are often too big for special fish oils. There is today a significant improvement potential to develop fish oil processes in general and to refine special parts of fish oils in particular. Modern advanced membrane technology using ceramic membranes represents interesting opportunities for meeting these development needs in a cost effective way. Ceramic membranes have several advantages that make them especially suitable for this application: narrow pore size distribution, hydrophilic surface properties, possibilities for sterilisation at high temperatures, and ability to be surface modified for specific applications. NORWAY is a significant world processor of fish oils. In fish oil production, large benefits can be obtained if free fatty acids, unwanted substances and triglycerides can be removed at mild process conditions. Such oils may be very stable and find new applications, e.g. in animal feed, in food, having higher nutritional values and being more beneficial for health than present oils. Present process conditions destroy valuable components in the oils, and oils with higher quality will create new markets and obtain higher prices. There are several competent Norwegian companies that are looking for ways of improving their current fish oil manufacturing involved in nutraceutical and pharmaceutical fish oil business. They are also aiming to develop the market with improved or new fish oil products as the availability of certain oils is increasing. DUE MILJOE AS has worked with several projects for the Norwegian fish industry developing fish components to interesting marketable products. DUE MILJOE runs several pilot plants and engineers the new processes to industrial scales. SINTEF operates a well-equipped laboratory facility for research, development and testing of new membranes and membrane processes. SINTEF has worked with a large number of projects in the membrane field, including development, characterisation and testing of ceramic membranes. FRANCE has significant players in the modern membrane filtration industry. RHODIA ORELIS designs, develops and manufactures membrane systems including systems using ceramic membranes. FRANCE also has fish oil producers, one of which is CTPP in Boulogne-sur-Mer - a co-operative working with the nearby fish and marine processing industry. They currently sell their fish oils to other companies for refining. They are working closely with the French marine research organisation IFREMER and particularly the laboratory of food engineering, which will lead the French part of the project. These companies and research groups have decided to join forces in this project in order to generate new technological means to refine and purify beneficial fractions of fish oils into high-value products. Assuming that the partners will succeed in developing the adequate ceramic membranes and find realistic process conditions, DUE MILJOE and RHODIA ORELIS will then design/engineer a full scale membrane plant for manufacturing of improved fish oils to be offered to CTPP and other fish oil manufacturers. More generically, the project will lead to increased knowledge of the properties and potential of ceramic membranes for separations in advanced biotechnological systems. It is commonly foreseen that biotechnology will evolve into an important basis for creation of values in NORWAY and FRANCE in the years to come. New jobs and businesses will be created, particularly in regional areas. Keywords: fish oil, membrane, soft technology.
Project ID: 
3 198
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
630 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Membrane / Filtration technology
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.