DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — GEA, a global industrial machinery and technology provider, will design a pilot plant for producing hydrolyzed krill protein for Aker BioMarine, a Norwegian biotech company that harvests krill in the Antarctic region and offers krill-based ingredients for sustainable health, aquaculture and animal feed products.

According to GEA, the pilot processing facility will be the world’s first to focus on krill, which the company described as “tiny shrimp-like crustaceans.” Aker BioMarine will use the facility to produce highly concentrated krill protein isolates for use in the food and beverage industry.

“With GEA’s expertise in engineering plants for food ingredients, we look forward to starting operations in a highly innovative facility that will also house our research and innovation center,” said Kees van de Watering, vice president of process engineering at Aker BioMarine.

GEA and Aker BioMarine signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract in July 2021 valued “in the double-digit million Euro range,” according to GEA. The facility is expected to be up and running in late 2022.

“The functional food – or New Food – market is currently evolving very dynamically,” said Heinz-Jürgen Kroner, senior vice president of liquid technologies at GEA. “Innovators such as Aker BioMarine are not only unlocking entirely new sources of human nutrition and health but also doing so without compromising the climate and environment.”

Krill protein offers more than 90% protein content and delivers a good balance of amino acids, and hydrolysates are commonly known to be well-absorbed in the human body, according to GEA.

GEA will implement its CODEX-based automation technology in the facility design to improve efficiencies and optimize product development.

Aker BioMarine has developed a method for converting protein flour into concentrated protein hydrolysate powder for human consumption, which it plans to scale with the new pilot plant.

Specifically, the company will produce INVI, a krill-based ingredient recently classified Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) in the United States market.

“We are thrilled to join Aker BioMarine on their journey into researching and commercializing krill protein,” Kroner added. “Assisting in developing new food sources provides us with an exciting opportunity to showcase our own creativity in process technology.”

Akar BioMarine is working toward total decarbonization among its krill fisheries and processing facilities. GEA has agreed to design and engineer the pilot krill processing plant with sustainability in mind, including energy consumption.

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