VOL. 132 | NO. 247 | Thursday, December 14, 2017
NouriTech Ready to Construct Fish Feed Facility
By Patrick Lantrip
It’s been a little more than a year since Cargill and California-based Calysta announced the two companies would partner to bring an old corn mill on Presidents Island back to life with a brand new $120 million, state-of-the-art facility.
Artist’s rendering of the new NouriTech fish feed production facility that will be built on former Cargill site on Presidents Island. (Submitted)
The result of that joint venture was NouriTech, a company created to commercially produce a new kind of sustainable fish feed known as FeedKind. And after spending the past eight months prepping the site, the fledgling company has gotten the green light from its board of directors to move forward with construction.
“At that board meeting we received approval to move ahead with Phase 1 of the project,” said Doug Sheldon, managing executive and chief operating officer of NouriTech. “We are looking to award an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contract to finalize the detailed engineering that will be done here in the next six months. Upon the conclusion of that work, we will move into the field and start construction on the project.”
Sheldon said the 37-acre brownfield site has already been prepped for construction after demolishing some of Cargill’s existing on-site structures.
“If the timing is as we plan it to be, we will start civil activities about a year from now, perhaps sooner,” he said. “In the fall of 2018 we will start some of the civil preparation for Phase 1 of the plant. Material will be produced in the latter part of June of 2020.”
Once fully up and running, the NouriTech facility will be able to produce up to 200,000 metric tons of FeedKind in 20 separate fermenters the company refers to as “unit operators.”
“What is envisioned is 20 identical pieces of equipment that will be put into the facility where we will actually generate the product,” Sheldon said. “Phase 1 consists of eight units, Phase 2 would consist of the balance of the 20, which is 12 units.”
FeedKind, which is a non-animal source of protein produced from microbes, is created by mixing gases in a proprietary fermenter where they are consumed by naturally-occurring microorganisms to form the basis of the protein, which is then separated from the watery mixture, before being dried, packaged and shipped.
While gas fermentation technology itself isn’t new, the Presidents Island facility will be the largest of its kind in the world created specifically to produce this new product on a commercial scale.
Sheldon said since the demand for FeedKind is so high, NouriTech is hoping to immediately segue into Phase 2 as soon as the first eight units are up and running.
“The plan right now is to do it on the back end,” he said. “We are not anticipating more than a three-month lag time before we start construction on the other 12, but we will be up and commissioned for the additional 12 sometime at the later part of 2021 or first part of 2022.”
Even at full capacity, Sheldon doesn’t believe that the Presidents Island facility will be able to satiate demand for their product.
“If we were able to put that (200,000 tons) in the marketplace tomorrow, it would just be a very small percentage of the overall market that exists today,” he said. “To put it simply, it’s a huge market and the reason we called this site North America One is that if this as successful as we believe it will be, there will be other production facilities.”
As for where the next production facility would go, Sheldon said that it is too early to say for sure, but added that a second site in Memphis isn’t out of the question.
“Memphis has many, many appealing attributes and benefits, and with the amount of work that we have done there it would make sense that if it’s possible, Memphis would certainly be a site I would suggest to be considered,” Sheldon said.