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Estonian biotechs collaborate to pilot biomanufacturing of high-value microbial oils

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Talinn-based companies ÄIO and Fibenol have joined forces in a strategic partnership to pioneer the biomanufacturing of high-value microbial oils. Fibenol, known for converting residues into sugars, will use ÄIO’s technology to turn wood sugars into functional oils and fatty acids for food, feed, and cosmetics. This collaboration addresses challenges in utilizing specific sugars and offers eco-friendly alternatives. By replacing animal fats and palm oil, the partnership aims to meet the growing demand for plant-based foods while reducing CO2 emissions.

Traditionally, C6 sugars, like glucose, have been consumed by most microbes, while hemicellulose-derived C5 sugars, such as xylose, posed challenges for efficient utilization. With the integration of ÄIO’s advanced technology, Fibenol can now efficiently convert its C5 sugars into high-value nutrient-rich foods. Moreover, these converted sugars offer promising alternative constituents for the oleochemical industry.

Karl Peebo, the project manager at Fibenol, expressed enthusiasm about the potential impact: “As the food sector significantly contributes to global emissions, our low CO2 footprint separation technology present a tremendous opportunity. We anticipate a growing range of applications for cellulosic sugars in the food industry in the future.”

After successful laboratory-scale production and initial experimental trials, ÄIO recognized the need to seek partners for process upscaling. Despite the recent expansion of the biotechnology industry in Estonia, inadequate infrastructure has forced several biotechnology firms to relocate their production facilities elsewhere.

Petri-Jaan Lahtvee, the co-founder of ÄIO, emphasized the significance of this pilot-scale collaboration with Fibenol: “This is an important milestone for ÄIO, showing that our biotech process is robust and can thrive under industry-like conditions. We are now poised to advance further the accessibility of alternative fats and oils for the food and cosmetics industries.”

With the global demand for plant-based foods soaring, these novel ingredients possess immense potential to replace animal fats and palm oil while ensuring local food security. ÄIO researchers have estimated that adopting biotech processes to obtain new and alternative fats and oils could mitigate 100 million tons of CO2 emissions, assuming ÄIO’s technology replaces approximately 30% of current palm oil usage.

Fibenol and ÄIO remain steadfast in their commitment to upholding the highest quality requirements and standards throughout production. Their primary focus is on delivering safe, nutritious ingredients fit for human consumption, with safety as the utmost priority.

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Nurcin Metingil
Nurcin Metingil
A permanent student, a passionate first reader and nowadays doing master’s degree in Publishing Management. Beside these, I am up for games! I have been playing games since I was 6. Now, I am whispering "Business. Business. Numbers. Is this working?"

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