Héðinn’s new take on fishmeal and oilLanding fishmeal from factory trawler Ilivileq. Photos: Héðinn

With a great deal of experience behind them in supplying and servicing  systems to produce fishmeal and oil both ashore and on board fishing vessels, most fishmeal factories operating in Iceland have benefitted from the company’s expertise.

Héðinn’s engineers have pioneered a new approach, developing the company’s Héðinn Protein Plant (HPP), combining simplified operation with some highly promising results in terms of energy efficiency, manpower needed to run the system, the physical footprint of the installation and outstanding product quality.

In simplifying the fishmeal production process, Héðinn’s engineers have moved away from the conventional process, replacing the complex liquid stage of the fishmeal cycle with a two-stage drying process, which serves to cut down on the number of components, process tanks and control parameters

According to Héðinn’s managing director Ragnar Sverrisson, the prime factors in the quality of the fishmeal and fish oil are freshness and type of raw material, but the type and quality of the processing plant is no less important in delivering high grade products.

“Smooth and gentle mechanical handling during transport, pumping and heating of the raw-material are essential to ensure uniform product quality. These are some of the key attributes of the HPP process. During the process, heating surfaces are kept under 110°C to avoid scorching the raw material,” he explained.

“In recent years one of the most challenging topics in the fishmeal and fish oil industry has been renewability and environmental impact, use of natural resources and release of gases and waste water. In this regard, the HPP process stands out. Less energy is used, and since the process is relatively simple, equipment is efficiently covered and suction applied where needed, with the result that there is little or no odour in the plant facility. The steam generated in the first drying stage is condensed in the process and pumped away as liquid. Only the moisture that evaporates in the second air drying step needs to be condensed in a scrubber.”

Ashore and at sea

HPP systems have since been installed both ashore and at sea, with consistently positive results.

“The first HPP system was fitted on board Sólberg ÓF-1, which started fishing in 2017,” explained Ragnar Sverrisson.

Factory trawler Sólberg, built for Siglufjörður fishing company Rammi to replace a couple of older trawlers, has now been operating its HPP system for almost four years, and over that time some valuable lessons have been learned by both Héðinn’s staff and the fishing company. To begin with some adjustments and modifications were needed – as is nothing unusual with a new vessel working with a new production system.

“As the first customer for  HPP operations at sea, we experienced various minor problems to start with. However, we worked very closely with Héðinn’s experts on solving issues that arose, and we have been very satisfied with their skills and helpfulness,” said Rammi’s managing director Ólafur Marteinsson, commenting that Sólberg’s fishmeal and fish oil production has been a profitable option, as only two of the crew are needed to operate the plant, which can cope with 50 tonnes of raw material every 24 hours.

He added that last year, after a time-consuming process, the fish oil produced on board was certified for human consumption, which has boosted the profitability of Sólberg’s production, while the freshness of the raw material passing through the HPP installation results in an exceptionally high quality fishmeal, with a 62-67% protein content. Production is all sold to customers in Iceland.

According to Ólafur Marteinsson, Sólberg’s trips are usually around 30 days, and storage space tends to fill up towards the end of a trip.

“One lesson we have learned is not to underestimate the production capacity of the HPP,” he said.

“If we were looking at commissioning a new trawler, we would allocate a more generous storage space,” he said.

Since the HPP installation on board Sólberg, the same systems have been fitted to factory trawlers Ilivileq, Berlin, Kirkella and Emeraude, all commissioned in the last few years.

As well as seagoing systems, Héðinn has supplied shore-based installations for a variety of production patterns, including for processing shellfish waste in the USA, and an HPP system for handling salmon production waste supplied to Faroese producer Havsbrún. Now Héðinn has also delivered an HPP system to Norwegian processor Grøndtvedt Nutri, which has just started production, working with substantial volumes of herring and mackerel offcuts from the Grøntvedt factory’s primary production of salted and marinaded products. The meal and oil production means that raw material is 100% utilised into fresh oil and 70% protein LT-meal and the HPP system is designed to cope with a constant round-the-clock flow of raw material during the heavy winter season, processing 300-350 tonnes per day of raw material left over from the main factory’s production.

“This installation is definitely a seal of approval for Héðinn,’ Ragnar Sverrisson said.

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