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Evonik-DSM JV starts up algal-oil manufacturing plant in Nebraska

By Mary Page Bailey |

Following a construction period of two years, a joint venture (JV) between Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; www.evonik.com) and the Royal DSM N.V. (Heerlen, the Netherlands; www.dsm.com) has commissioned the world’s largest fermentative manufacturing operation using natural marine algae in Nebraska, USA. This plant contributes to long-term sustainable animal nutrition and helps to conserve biodiversity in the oceans.

Through the fermentative manufacture of natural marine algae, the new plant produces a special algal oil that contains the key omega-3 fatty acids needed for healthy salmon farming.

The two parent companies of the 50:50 joint venture named Veramaris, have invested a total of $200 million in equal parts for the construction of the plant in Blair, Nebraska. The initial algal oil produced at the plant can sustainably supply approximately 15% of the annual demand the global salmon-farming industry has for the two omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The unique process developed by Evonik and DSM enables the manufacture of EPA and DHA for salmon feed for the first time without using any fish oil from wild-caught fish.

“In Veramaris, we have combined the competencies of two strong partners to make an innovative contribution to the healthy nutrition of the world’s growing population, without putting any further burden on our oceans,” says Christian Kullmann, chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik. Feike Sijbesma, CEO/Chairman DSM Managing Board commented: “I am pleased that together with Evonik we have reached a key milestone in turning the tide: through Veramaris, we are able to reduce the aquaculture industry’s reliance on the world’s finite fish oil resources for these vital omega-3 fatty acids. This fits perfectly with our purpose-led performance driven strategy, focused on addressing the world’s biggest challenges while simultaneously creating economic, environmental and societal value for all our stakeholders.”

With Veramaris the Animal Nutrition business line has taken a significant step towards becoming an integrated and innovative system supplier of healthy and sustainable animal nutrition. The joint venture not only complements the portfolio of the business line; together with the business line’s activities in the precision livestock farming sector, it forms one of the most important pillars in the further development of Animal Nutrition.

The production of the Veramaris algal oil is based on the natural algae strain Schizochytrium, which DSM has brought to the partnership with Evonik. The joint development of the strain right up to commercial production, and the joint development of the process formed the basis for the new production plant. Evonik constructed the plant on site in Blair next to its existing facility, where it has been running a fermentation process to produce Biolys (source of L-lysine) for many years now. The production complex benefits from many synergies in infrastructure, technology and personnel.

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