ACCIOCircular EconomyWater

How to recover proteins from stickwater to improve the quality of fishmeal

LEITAT and LEF INGENIEROS collaborate to recover proteins from stickwater to improve the quality of fishmeal

The REFISHEIN project, the result of the collaboration of the LEITAT technology center and the company LEF INGENIEROS with the Chilean company AZ INGENIERÍA, has successfully carried out the study based on the recovery of stickwater by filtration with ceramic membranes.

The results are highly promising and with high export capacity. They also allow the implementation of an environmentally sustainable process for the concentration of products in the food industry based on the principles of circular economy.

This new technology will provide a higher quality fish meal.

Barcelona, ​​on September 20, 2017 – Stickwater is a very important wastewater stream in volume that is generated during the fishmeal production process. This stream represents 60% of the processed fish and contains on the order of 10% solids (mostly protein). This sector of the fishing industry, committed to projects of continuous improvement, has dedicated efforts to the recovery of the protein contained in stickwater because it has a great value: its reincorporation to the fish meal contributes to increase the quality of the product, which is intended for animal feed.

The REFISHEIN project considers stickwater as a source rich in proteins and, far from wasting it, aims to design a treatment to recover and purify these proteins by reducing their content in salts and histamine. The addition of these purified proteins to the fish meal gives rise to a product with better nutritional characteristics and therefore with great added value.

In addition, the solution adopted in REFISHEIN can be replicated in other types of aqueous streams, such as wastewater.

The LEITAT research team explains that “the results obtained confirm the technical and environmental viability of the process, achieving a protein recovery of around 90% and, consequently, increasing the quality of fishmeal.”

More information about the project:


About LEITAT: LEITAT, a member of TECNIO and recognized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, is a Technological Institute that aims to collaborate with companies and institutions adding technological value to both products and processes, and focuses its research , industrial development and innovation (R & D + 2i). As a Technology Partner it has a clear desire to adapt to transform technological challenges into economic and social value. In its state-of-the-art facilities it develops projects in the fields of: biotechnology, advanced materials, industrial chemistry, renewable energies and new production processes.

About LEF Ingenieros: LEF Ingenieros, a company consolidated in the sector with more than 20 years in the market, has a long experience in water treatment plants, as well as a firm positioning through its own offices in Spain and USA, in addition to its partners in Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. The partners of LEF Ingenieros have been providing services to the Private Sector and the different Administrations for more than 30 years, designing, supplying and operating various water installations. The main assets of LEF Ingenieros are the knowledge, its human team, its capacity of service, and the flexibility to adapt to the specific demands that each project and client require.


This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union in the framework of the Operational Program ERDF of Catalonia 2014-2020.