Getting technical with our CTO
Dr. Eran Hadas, ECOshrimp’s CTO, gives us the inside track on the R&D process that went into getting the ECOshrimp technology ready for market, and what we can expect next.
- How did the idea for ECOshrimp come about?
ECOshrimp started as an AquaMaof project, inspired by clients all over the world telling us that they were looking for a new solution for growing shrimp. The traditional methods used are vulnerable to challenges such as disease and bad weather conditions, which increase shrimp mortality and reduce yields. What’s more, there has been an increase in global awareness of the need for local production, both to secure food supplies and to reduce the carbon footprint involve in transportation to market. The time was right for a solution that meets this growing interest in investing in local infrastructure.
- The AquaMaof solution is used for growing various species. Was much adaptation required to make it suitable for growing shrimp?
The water parameters for growing shrimp and salmon, for instance, are actually very similar. Both require high water quality and although the salmon is a cold-water species and shrimp need warm water, the technology itself is still based on the same principles. Using AquaMaof knowhow as our starting point, we adapted it specifically to the conditions that shrimp require. For example, in terms of waste composition, shrimp produce more particulate organic matter, because of their different feeding biology. This had to be accommodated in the filter system.
- The research to get the ECOshrimp solution to the stage it is at today took four years – given the head-start you had with AquaMaof, why was this?
We began with an initial research project, based on our review of published information about shrimp RAS, and our own previous experience with both traditional outdoor facilities and experimental indoor systems. This gave us an overview of the potential challenges of growing shrimp in intensive indoor systems. We then spent two and half years developing a new biological and technical concept specifically suited to shrimp culture. After that, in preparation for offering our technology to the market, we proceeded to fully evaluate and verify that the solution is repeatable over several growth cycles. Having proven this to be the case, we nevertheless continue to fine tune the technology in line with the new data we are gathering.
- In adapting the RAS technology to suit shrimp production, what were the key challenges you worked to address?
The key challenge we faced was how to achieve high enough productivity to justify shrimp production in a RAS facility. This is very different to intensifying fish production in culture tanks, and hasn’t been addressed before now. We succeeded by developing a new culture tank that meets the biological demands of shrimp, while at the same time maintaining optimal water quality. To date, we have grown over a dozen cycles from PL 12 up to a market size of 25 grams.
- Four years of research must generate huge volumes of data. What is the value of the data you’ve collected?
The data we have collected is the very basis of our system design. To the best of our knowledge, it is absolutely unparalleled – no other company has the R&D facilities required to generate this kind of data, either in terms of scope, volume or quality.
- ECOshrimp is now ready to launch its solution in the commercial market, and is starting to look for partners and investors to collaborate on the building of ECOshrimp facilities around the world. Where do you go from here?
These are exciting times – we’ve proven our concept and we’re ready to take it to market. At the same time, we continue to carry out R&D, using what we learned to further enhance and refine the ECOshrimp offering. We are currently working to increase shrimp yield by improving survivability and increasing the growth rate, which we do mainly by optimizing feed management and through genetic improvement. At the same time, we are looking into the next step of scaling up production to over 1000 tons of shrimp per year, while optimizing the system to improve its efficiency at lower production costs.