Mackay pilot plant to enhance Australia’s novel food ingredients production

A $3.9 million project will complete the transformation of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant (MRBPP) into a state-of-the-art food-grade compliant facility which will enhance Australia’s ability to produce novel food ingredients.

Precision fermentation is a technology that allows us to convert sugars into a range of other food ingredients and products in brewery-style fermentation tanks.

Professor Ian O’Hara, who led the development of the MRBPP more than a decade ago said, “This project is part of an overall $16 million upgrade to the facility to be completed this year which will transform the pilot plant into Australia’s leading physical containment level 2 (PC2) large scale food-grade research translation facility. ”

Unlike traditional fermentation, which is used to make products such as beer and yoghurt, precision fermentation tunes the microorganisms to produce specific enzymes, fats or proteins and allows us to do this at large scale.

“The advantages of precision fermentation are that it can lead to new food products and ingredients that are not possible to produce through traditional methods, providing sustainability benefits and increasing consumer choice.” said O’Hara.

“Precision fermentation allows us to manufacture new high-value food ingredients like proteins that can boost our bioeconomy in Australia and provide new domestic and export opportunities for our agricultural and food and beverage industries.”

The QUT research team involved in the project includes professor O’Hara, professor Jolieke van der Pols, associate professor Mark Harrison and Dr Jo Blinco.

In addition to the investments by QUT and FaBA, the mackay pilot plant upgrade is being supported by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the regional recovery partnerships program and the Queensland Government department of state development and infrastructure through the industry partnership program.

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