The Norweigan supplier of marine-based Omega-3 products to capsule manufacturers was already guaranteeing Omega-3 with 90% minimum triglyceride content but the $40 million investment in its Aalesund facility is being carried out to increase its distillation capacity further.
The upgrade includes the introduction of "highly sophisticated quality process technology" branded 'EQP+Tech' which allows individual fatty acids to be separated from fish oil and ultra-concentrated without using excessive heat or harsh chemicals.
Bjørn Refsum, CEO of Epax, says the black box-protected technology is the result of years of research and development.
Using data from over a thousand test runs and analyses, Epax’s process engineers studied the performance of various fatty acids in the company’s high-tech molecular distillation equipment.
He explains: "By finding the optimum balance between pressure, temperature and time, they identified the best possible way to separate each fatty acid from fish oil while retaining its natural quality."
Based on the research, Epax fine-tuned its re-esterification process and invested in new customised equipment. It includes sensors monitoring thousands of data-points and making constant adjustments, allowing in-depth tracking of the re-esterification process to ensure consistent quality.
EQP+Tech will help Epax continue to guarantee a minimum 90% triglyceride content across its range of EPA and DHA ingredients, as well as developing new highly concentrated Omega-3 products for a range of health needs.
The speed and gentleness of the process means there are particular application opportunities in delivery systems where sensory properties are important, explains Refsum.
“In Omega-3 production, the big question is how you balance the never-ending quest for higher concentration with the need for quality and reproducibility. Epax was already a leader in ultra-concentrated Omega-3, but this upgrade takes us to a whole new level.
"To our knowledge, no-one else is using technology as sophisticated as this and the possibilities for manufacturers are huge. They’ll benefit not just from high concentration, purity and consistency, but also great sensory properties, allowing them to create products that meet the growing consumer demand for high-quality Omega-3.”
The upgrade concludes a major phase of Epax’s investment in its facility, with further improvements and investments already in progress.
Part of Norwegian fishery giant Pelagia AS, Epax Norway AS has been a manufacturer of marine oils for over 180 years.
The firm claims the invention of technology to concentrate fish oil as an ethyl ester, and to re-esterify oils back to TG-form, and was the first to create condition-specific EPA/DHA ingredients backed by science.
The firm has been recognised for its EcoVision sustainability programme with a Friend of the Sea omega-3 award.