Cargill, Calysta Break Ground on Presidents Island Facility

By Patrick Lantrip

NouriTech, a joint venture between Cargill and Calysta, broke ground on its new 37-acre Presidents Island gas fermentation facility, which will be the world’s largest upon completion.

(Submitted)

At the facility, NouriTech will produce FeedKind, a sustainable commercial source of protein to be used for fish, livestock and pets.

“Fermentation technology has been used for years, but what’s going to happen here is truly groundbreaking technology,” Calysta president and CEO Alan Shaw said. “And that is a huge achievement for Memphis.”

Once the plant is up and running, NouriTech expects to initially produce up to 20,000 metric tons per year of FeedKind protein, with the ability expand to as much as 200,000 metric tons per year when operating at full capacity.

“FeedKind will enable fish farms all over the world to continue to grow and provide healthy seafood by reducing the environmental impact,” Mike Wagner, Cargill’s vice president and managing director, said. “This is extremely important to Cargill given the unique challenges we face in sustaining and nourishing the world that will be growing by 2 billion people by 2050.”

The process works by mixing gases in a proprietary fermenter where they are consumed by Calysta's natural microorganisms form the basis of the FeedKind protein. The protein is then separated from the watery mixture, before being dried, packaged and shipped.

Cargill originally occupied the Presidents Island facility in May 1976. At that time, it was the most modern and automated corn processing facility of its kind.

“Fast-forward 41 years and here we are today on this same piece of property now joined with other inverters to once again build a state-of-the-art facility,” Wagner said.

In 2014, Cargill announced it was closing its corn milling facility due to underutilization and its location away from the Corn Belt.

At the time, Cargill was Memphis, Light, Gas and Water Division’s largest single water customer. The closure resulted in $1.8 million in lost MLGW revenue and an eventual 22 percent water rate hike to offset the losses.

In November, Cargill announced that a joint venture with Calysta would convert its vacated corn mill facility into a gas fermentation facility, and create 75 new jobs.

Construction on the first phase of the facility is scheduled to wrap up in 2018, followed by the second phase in 2020.