US algae company eyes new partnerships on aquaculture technologies

US-based Origin Oil is better known for its water cleanup efforts on fracking operations in the oil and gas industry than in aquaculture, but that same technology is positioning the company well to make headway in… aquaculture this year. Its core product — a patented water cleanup technology called Electro Water Separation (EWS) — offers a high-speed, chemical-free process that extracts organic contaminants from large quantities of water.

As the global shrimp industry trudges back from a game-changing early mortality syndrome (EMS) epidemic, all eyes are on methods to improve sanitation in aquaculture, which is exactly what Origin claims to do.

At the European Algae Biomass conference this week in Seville, Spain, the company is targeting fish feed companies with its message on aquaculture solutions.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is a holistic solution incorporating algae, incorporating aquaculture, based on a similar platform,” Nicholas Eckelberry, chief research officer, told Undercurrent News.

At the conference, the company is presenting its latest improvements on its patented harvesting technology. In addition to offering water cleaning technologies, the company also provides the technology that can be used to produce algae powder, a plant-based, omega-3 rich substitute for fishmeal and oil.

Jean-Louis Kindler, Origin Oil’s chief commercial officer, describes the company’s offerings to customers as a “technology brick.”

“With a lot of bricks, you can build a wall — but you have to have a lot of bricks within this wall. we feel we’re one of the very important bricks,” he told Undercurrent.

Kindler is traveling to Korea next month in an effort to begin manufacturing the company’s equipment there with a company that is designing complete aquaponics and water treatment systems designed to be built in urban environments. The findings from this project will be applicable to aquaculture, Kindler said.

The new partnership would add to a list of four licensing and promotional partnerships it has established in the industry in total. These enable companies to sell or operate complete systems that embed Origin Oil’s technology.

“Our intention is to develop a network of partners that will cover the main markets in the world,” Kindler said.

The company has established a couple of partnerships this year with two aquaculture companies:Israel-based AquaGreen Fish Farms in January and Catalina Sea Ranch, a newly approved shellfish aquaculture project hoping to begin production this summer, in April.

Core roots, and future, in oil and gas

Origin’s expansion efforts in oil and gas expanded on Wednesday, as it made public its plans to seek out one or more acquisitions in the oil and gas industry.

Given its ability to clean up waste — known as frac flowback — in tracking operations, it is seeking a partner with the ability in this area.

“We are happy with the progress of our licensing activities,” CEO Riggs Eckelberry said. “At the same time, we believe we can grow revenue in the booming water treatment services sector of the oil & gas industry, through acquisition of companies with strong capabilities.”

The company plans to remain committed to serving licensees through technology transfer in these and other areas, such as algae harvesting, aquaculture and organic waste treatment, it said.

Eckelberry, who co-founded the company with his brother Riggs Eckelberry in 2007, saw the company start to take off when it gained its first customer, PACE Engineering, in September of 2013. It hopes to expand upon this success in the oil and gas industry through its “quantum fracturing” technology, which cleans up large amounts of flow-back water in fracking operations, in the aquaculture industry.

In October of last year, the company’s pay-by-the-gallon business gained its first customer in Industrial Systems, a water treatment system that integrated Origin Oil’s process in the first stage of treatment.

Jeanine Stewart, Undercurrentnews

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