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Finnish researchers aim to transform wood into fish feed

A new project led by Luke\'s Research Scientist Risto Korpinen is investigating the possibility of using sawdust as a protein ingredient in fish feeds. The project, called \"MonoCell – High-quality single cell protein for fish feed,\" is aiming to make high quality single-cell protein out of sawdust, which could later on be developed into fish feed. Korpinen believes that wood-based protein has a realistic chance of becoming a serious option for fish feed. Pulp mills have the right facilities to develop and use the MonoCell innovation and, thus, create new business for themselves.

September 14, 2017


A new project led by Luke Natural Resources Institute researcher Risto Korpinen is investigating the possibility of using sawdust as a protein ingredient in fish feeds. The project, called \"MonoCell – High-quality single cell protein for fish feed,\" is aiming to make high quality single-cell protein out of sawdust, which could later on be developed into fish feed.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the challenges that food production has to face in the future,\" stated Korpinen. \"That is also one of the reasons why I came up with this idea. The use of wild fish in feeding has led to the collapse of global fish stocks, and in Finland we use a lot of imported feed like soy. The industry is lacking a sustainable domestic option for fish feed.\"

The MonoCell project got off the ground in August when the first experiments were conducted. Utilizing sawdust in protein production is a sophisticated process that includes several stages. The aim is for the team of ten researchers from all over Finland to carry out the primary experiments in the next couple of months. 

“Everyone in our team has their own task that reflects their expertise. We have food scientists and nutrition experts, for example. At the end, researcher Frans Silvenius will do a life cycle analysis that will tell us how much energy and chemicals have been used in the whole process”, Korpinen says.

Korpinen believes that wood-based protein has a realistic chance of becoming a serious option for fish feed. Pulp mills have the right facilities to develop and use the MonoCell innovation and, thus, create new business for themselves.

“Mills could establish protein production units on their properties. They could benefit from the synergy by not just circulating the materials, water and chemicals but also energy, like electricity and steam,\" stated Korpinen.

Finnish sawmills are producing 3.3 million cubic metres of sawdust each year. Even though a large part of it is used for pulp and energy production, a substantial amount of it is piling up, unused and finally rotten.

Learn more about Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland

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