ÄIO and Fibenol tie-up to pilot the biomanufacturing of microbial oils for F&B
22 May 2023 --- Fibenol has partnered with biotechnology start-up ÄIO to create a reliable alternative to traditionally produced fats and vegetable oils. Using ÄIO’s technology, Fibenol’s wood sugars are converted into oils and fatty acids, well suited as functional food and feed.
The move is being coined as an important milestone for ÄIO, according to co-founder Petri-Jaan Lahtvee.
“Our biotech process is robust and can thrive under industry-like conditions. We are now poised to advance the accessibility of alternative fats and oils for food industries,” says Lahtvee.
Traditionally, C6 sugars, such as glucose, have been consumed by most microbes, while hemicellulose-derived C5 sugars, such as xylose, pose 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, project manager at Fibenol, is enthusiastic about the potential impact: “As the food sector significantly contributes to global emissions, our low CO2 footprint separation technology presents 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.
Ensuring local food security
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 metric tons of CO2 emissions, assuming ÄIO’s technology replaces approximately 30% of current palm oil usage.
Jointly, Fibenol and ÄIO are focused on delivering safe, nutritious ingredients fit for human consumption, with safety as a key priority, they say.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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