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The company CO2Bio is developing more sustainable fish feed, using waste carbon dioxide. The company's CEO, Svein M Nordvik (pictured), explains how the process works.
A Norwegian company is using waste carbon dioxide to grow a very special crop.
The company CO2Bio is harnessing sunlight, seawater and carbon emissions to grow micro algae at the National AlgaePilot facility in the Bergen region.
These algae are a rich source of Omega‑3, a vital nutrient for farmed fish such as salmon and trout.
Currently, most of this nutrient is obtained from wild fish stocks in South America as well as fish offcuts, yet the industry is looking for more sustainable alternatives.
“We believe that over the last few years, consumers have been increasingly conscious of what goes into their fish,” explains Svein M Nordvik, CEO of CO2Bio.
“This trend towards greater sustainability will only continue in future.”
A pioneering project
The National AlgaePilot centre in western Norway includes a large greenhouse, containing row after row of seawater‑filled glass tubes.
These tubes are home to micro algae that use carbon dioxide to create Omega-3. The company harvests these algae regularly in order to create sustainable fish feed.
The facility is based near to the Mongstad oil refinery, one of the largest single emitters of CO2 in the whole of Norway.
Some of this waste gas is captured by Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), an internationally renowned centre for testing new carbon capture technologies. It is then transferred to the greenhouse at the National AlgaePilot where it can be put to use.
CO2Bio’s process uses waste gas from the nearby Mongstad industrial park, one of Norway’s largest CO2 emitters.
As Nordvik explains, “We are aiming to use waste carbon dioxide to create added value, rather than releasing it into the air.”
“In many ways, what we are doing is pioneering work,” he continues. “What we are doing with this testing facility has never been done at this scale.”
The firm has tested different types of micro algae, and has found a Norwegian strain that is particularly high in nutrients.
CO2Bio has been trialling its algae as part of the feed pellets given to farmed fish, and has so far seen promising results.
This includes a trial with young salmon, in partnership with Cargill’s EWOS, which delivered a positive outcome.
The company has also seen good results when testing its algae with the Ballan wrasse, a type of cleaner fish that helps to remove sea lice from farmed salmon, in co-operation with the aquaculture firm Mowi.
The algae acts as a component of the wrasses’ food source, while also delivering the murky water conditions that these fish prefer.
The company’s algae has been used by Norwegian aqua farmers, with promising results.
A team effort
From the start, the project has been a symbol of the team spirit of western Norway.
“We’ve received a lot of support from various elements of the seafood industry here in Bergen,” Nordvik explains. “The University of Bergen are the owners of the facility at Mongstad, and have also been decisive in helping us to gain outside funding.”
“NORCE has put a lot of effort into the scheme, and have assigned some of their own researchers to work with us.”
The way forwards
The organization’s goal is to move into a larger facility, where they can produce greater quantities of algae biomass a year.
This will be a crucial step towards the commercial production of sustainable Omega‑3 for the aquaculture industry.
Nordvik is clear over the challenges that remain, but is also optimistic about the size of the market.
“There is a superb environment here, with many commercial opportunities – particularly as the largest fish farming companies are based here in the Bergen region.”
“With a growing trend towards sustainability, we believe that more and more aquaculture companies will be focusing on greener solutions in future.”
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