Growing Futures

Adding value to hoki

Adding value to hoki

New biomaterial ingredients extracted from hoki skins adds value to the seafood industry

The global market for biomaterials – materials based on natural compounds - is growing at 15% per year and is expected to be worth close to US$65 billion by 2015. Biomaterials reduce the reliance on non-renewable resources, such as oil, and many have novel properties valuable to industry. Biomaterials also tend to be biodegradable, reducing environmental issues associated with disposal.

Collagen as a biomaterial

Each year, the New Zealand seafood industry catches around 120,000 tonnes of hoki, most of which is processed for sale as fillets. A by-product of the industry is hoki skin, removed in the filleting process. Collagen extracted from the hoki skin has been shown to have the right properties for development of new biomaterial nanofibres for use in a number of industries.

By using novel methods of extraction and formulation, collagen can be electrospun into nanofibres on starch-based discs. These discs are manufactured by Revolution Fibres Ltd and sold as the SETA filter, used in HRV Ltd’s home ventilation systems. The unique structure of the collagen nanofibres in the filter traps microbial particles in the air as it passes through the system. Sales of the SETA air filter are growing at 30% each quarter and the nanofibre technology has been critical to the development of the company. The development of these, and other biomaterials as electrospun fibres, for use as filtration materials is expected to deliver significant economic benefit to New Zealand through exports from this newly emerging sector.

Collagen electrospun fibres have also been developed for use in the cosmeceutical industry as a patch that delivers anti-aging and skin repair plant extract formulations into the skin. The technology also has potential for the medical industry in areas such as tissue regeneration and wound dressings.

Electrospinning for export

Biomaterials research has led to the development of new, specialised equipment for electrospinning nanofibres. This equipment, designed specifically for research purposes, has been developed in conjunction with Electrospinz Ltd and is now being exported to research laboratories around the world. Since 2007, the company has sold a total of 18 machines, with a total value of $215,000, including two systems to the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany.

Electrospinning research has been funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and through Plant & Food Research Core Funding.

Created: September 2012

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