GEA to supply krill protein pilot plant for Aker Biomarine


Slated to come online in late 2022, the pilot plant will produce a concentrated protein isolate for food and beverages

Image credit: Aker Biomarine

Image credit: Aker Biomarine

Contracted by Aker BioMarine, GEA is designing and delivering a pilot plant for hydrolysing krill protein. Aker uses krill to develop ingredients for functional foods, aquaculture and animal feed. Slated to come online in late 2022, the pilot plant will produce a concentrated protein isolate for food and beverages. The partners signed the engineering, procurement and construction contract range in July 2021.

“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, VP Process Engineering Aker BioMarine. Through its activities at the site in Ski Næringspark near Oslo, the company aims to help evolve Norway’s marine biotechnology competence cluster.

It also intends to decarbonize both its krill fisheries and production. Aker’s decision to cooperate with GEA was reportedly motivated in part by the supplier’s pursuit of sustainability and the low carbon footprint of its process technology. GEA will engineer the pilot plant for krill protein with a view to sustainability. While every component’s energy consumption and longevity are checked, major efficiency gains are also secured thanks to streamlined process planning and automation, the company says.

At the plant, Aker will manufacture INVI, a krill protein hydrolysate that was recently classified as food safe and is now ready to be marketed in the US.

GEA has been tasked with designing all technical processes in the krill protein hydrolysis pilot plant as well as supplying and integrating the machinery and components. The plant will incorporate its CODEX based automation system.

“The functional food – or New Food – market is currently evolving very dynamically. 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. We are thrilled to join Aker BioMarine on their journey into researching and commercializing krill protein,” said Heinz-Jürgen Kroner, Senior VP Liquid Technologies at GEA.

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Aker has developed a production process to convert protein flour into high-quality protein hydrolysate powder for human consumption. In commissioning the pilot plant, which will expand production from the current lab-based operation into a scalable, industrial process with a capacity of 120 tons per year, the company will develop and sell commercial products and work with partners to create market opportunities.