Turning salmon waste into biodiesel

Clayton Hunt
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Making aquaculture more environmentally friendly

Dr. Deepika Dave, a research scientist with the Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University is currently working to address one of the key issues in the province’s aquaculture industry - what do to do with salmon waste.

The biodiesel research team includes (from left) Wade Murphy, Dr. Deepika Dave, Sheila Trenholm and Vegneshwaran Ramakrishnan.

Submitted photo

Dr. Dave is leading the Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development’s (CASD) marine biodiesel research team in creating biodiesel and other value added products from salmon waste.

Dr. Dave said officials with the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA) and Environment Canada are saying that we will have to generate more landfill sites to handle salmon waste as the industry continues to grow.

According to an article by the MI, by-product and waste generated from salmon aquaculture includes processing waste and mortalities.

The processing of salmon generates large amounts of solid wastes, up to 45 to 50 percent of the body weight of the processed salmon.

Research from the DFA has revealed that 12 percent of salmon aquaculture production within the province is turned out as waste every year due to disease and other factors which includes mortality.

The province’s salmon industry generates an average of 6276 tonnes of processing discards and 1,712 tonnes of mortalities from which valuable oil can be recovered. The province has the potential to produce 1,600 tonnes of salmon oil that can be converted into approximately 1,520 tonnes of biodiesel.

Salmon waste management is an issue, which has the greatest impact on the environment, especially the marine environment.

Our current landfill locations are quickly being filled so we have to look for solutions to handle salmon waste, as it will pose more concerns for land and marine environments in the future.

Dr. Dave said, “We have to think about what we can do with the huge amount of waste instead of dumping it in landfills and or oceans. It is very important to see if we can utilize waste in a practical way and make money from that process without causing any further problem with the waste.”

One of the ways to utilize salmon waste is to convert it into biodiesel, an alternative fuel made from vegetable or animal fats formulated exclusively for diesel engines.

Dr. Dave said one of the key benefits of generating this waste into biodiesel would be to reduce our dependency on landfills while at the same time protecting the marine environment.

Over the long-term Dr. Dave said this biodiesel project could develop an economically viable, small to medium scale fish oil derived biodiesel production process for the salmon aquaculture industry.

This biodiesel could be used in remote aquaculture sites to run generators and marine vessels.

“While it is not easy to convert salmon waste into biodiesel, it can be done,” Dr. Dave said. “We are attempting to produce biodiesel without using many chemicals and have had some success.”

Dr. Dave received $100,000 funding from the Research and Development Corporation to conduct the project. The research is being conducted at CASD’s marine bioprocessing plant in St. John’s.

Note: Information for the above article was taken from an article written by Dr. Dave that also appeared in the May 2014 issue of the ‘Navigator’.

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Centre for Aquaculture, Environment Canada Research and Development

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Recent comments

  • john
    June 28, 2014 - 03:20

    landfill? Why not compost? Let's get some soil on 'The Rock'.

  • john
    June 28, 2014 - 03:17

    my guess is that no wild fish are being used to feed these farmed salmon. I would say all or a high percentage of their diet comes from soy or corn which, in turn, would alter their fat profile. Salmon are naturally high in omega 3s, a highly prized commodity. The fact that these guys are using this oil as diesel screams 'unfit for human consumption' and perhaps illustrating an unnatural fat profile. At least they're not selling oil supplements anyways.

  • paul
    June 27, 2014 - 06:51

    do you realise how much waste is generated by other food production industries and fisheries? salmon waste has value because of its oil content thats not in some other productions waste. btw, less and less wild fish is used in salmon feed these days...do you know what other industries use fish meal? pet food, pork and poultry production....and more. why pick on salmon farming in particular when they are reducing their wild fish consumption.

  • KeelHauled
    June 26, 2014 - 13:05

    Couldn't agree with you more Gobs

  • Gobsmacked
    June 24, 2014 - 10:37

    If there is that much waste to be dealt with then the amount of wild fish that is being taken from the sea to feed these anomalies is a crime against nature. But rather than consider that fact that such an industry is a crime, in the same way the mink industry is, we'll just create some unsustainable jobs to add to the crimes. What is the matter with the human race? Have we gone insane?

    • paul
      June 25, 2014 - 08:02

      you think there is no problem with waste from other fish and food industries? salmon farming is not unique in this, except that salmon waste may have more oils that may be useful, than some other wastes. as for using wild fish, salmon feed formulations have been changing and they use less and less wild fish all the time.