Fish Florentine Group

Project Fish Florentine: Growth of Fish Tissue Cells on Decellularized Plant Material in a Bioreactor

Students: Amrin Bhangu, Andrea Crow, Audreie Primandono, Iain Wright, Maria Blagojevic

Program: Chemical Engineering

Project Fish Florentine is the Capstone design project that sets out to address the identified gaps in the cultivated fish meat industry. Cultivated meat, also known as cultured meat, lab-grown meat, or cell-cultured meat, is the breakthrough scientific food technology that combines tissue engineering and food science to culture the muscle cells of animals popularly consumed as protein sources, such as chicken, beef, pork, and fish – the latter being the source this project is focused on – without raising the animal on a farm. This technology could revolutionize agriculture as we know it by drastically reducing the amount of land, water, and energy poured into producing animal meat products today. There is a significant push for alternative and “cleaner” meat sources in the consumer market, as shown by the overwhelming support for plant-based protein sources. The market gaps as identified by the team included a lack of cell scaffolding options specific to fish cell culture and opportunities for exploring commercial upscaling of the processes.
A literature review is completed to provide background information on the general production process of cultured meat and challenges in the industry, including high capital investment and mass transfer limitations on a large scale. The advantages of fish cell cultures for cultured meats include being more robust to a broader range of temperature, pH, and oxygen levels and having a simpler flavour profile that a muscle cell culture can more easily replicate. A review of stationary and microcarrier scaffolding and edible and non-edible scaffolding materials is done to provide a basis for the use of decellularized plant material for the cell scaffolding. The theoretical principles and considerations are provided for the scale-up of a bioreactor to determine the appropriate assumption for scale-up to be geometric similarity and constant impeller tip speed.

The lab experiments conducted to provide proof-of-concept in this first stage of the project showed that the proposed decellularization of a plant source to act as a scaffold for cell growth is a promising option for increased process scale-up. The procedure developed by the team uses deionized water and SDS solution that incubates in an agitated beaker for five days and then adds a non-ionic surfactant (Triton X) and common bleach to complete the decellularization. After decellularization, a meticulous rinsing procedure must be followed to remove all traces of these chemicals: autoclaved water is used to rinse and absorb the remainder of the SDS, surfactant, and bleach before cell seeding could occur. The most productive experiments succeeded in culturing cell growth with cell viability of 70%.

The lab procedure was then upscaled to a 2,000 L tank using the assumptions of geometric similarity and constant impellor tip speed. A hypothetical process was also designed for the cell growth phase and final processing of the cultured meat. The final output of the of the process was 130 kg/batch or 6,760 kg/year. The estimated capital cost of the project was found to be $684,000 or 67% of a comparable industrial aquaculture project. However, the operational costs of the project were determined to eb at $281,000 per batch or $14,283,000 annually. The growth media was found to be the most prohibitive, however a processed was investigated which could reduce the operational cost to $1,497,000 annually. The environmental analysis showed that the process had lower emission and water consumption than comparable livestock farming at 60 L/kg and 27 CO2e/kg.