Dr Boon-Seang Chu


W&J Knox Ltd, based in Ayrshire, is the largest UK manufacturer and servicing agent of Aquaculture nets. The company provides cage nets primarily to the salmon farming industry and on a biannual basis they transport the nets back to its servicing facility for washing, repairing and drying before returning them to the fish farm. 



Aquaculture nets have to be washed regularly to remove the marine plants and animals that attach to the netting restricting the flow of water to the fish contained within.  

Washing the commercial fishing nets from the salmon farming industry produces several hundred tonnes per year of a solid material rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, fish oil proteins and calcium from mussel shells and includes copper which is dried into cake. 

Following a referral from North Ayrshire Council, Interface worked with the company to identify suitable academic support to analyse this waste product and suggest a use for the nutrient rich solid cake produced from the process. The ‘cake’ which goes to an approved landfill site may have value in the nutrients contained within it which could be used to create a new product and thus reducing the volume and cost of the material going to landfill.  


The School of Applied Sciences at Abertay University were able to support the company due to their experience in handling such waste materials, extraction of bioactive ingredients and quantification of bioactive compounds.  

Through a feasibility study, funded through a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, the university were able to analyse the waste product and its potential use.  

Follow on Activity 

Following the initial feasibility study, a researcher has now been employed by Abertay University, through the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme (KTP), to investigate how the useful materials can be extracted from the waste cakes. Instead of being sent to landfill, tonnes of salvaged protein and oil will now be turned into livestock feed for the likes of fish, pigs and chickens. 

Company benefits

“With the Aquaculture Industry’s plans to increase production significantly by 2030 we are going to have to process more of the waste material that we remove from the nets. We need to reduce what we send to landfill and with the assistance of Abertay University and the employment of a KTP Associate we hope to be able to achieve this by developing a method to allow us to recover valuable elements from the waste that can be utilised in other ways.”

Dave Hutchens, Managing Director, W&J Knox

Academic Benefits

Dr Boon-Seang Chu

“We are delighted to be partnering with W&J Knox on this innovative KTP, which has the potential to benefit both the environment and the business itself. Abertay has a strong track record in research focussing on the reuse of food waste products and this is an area that is going to become increasingly important on both a national and international level in the coming years.” 

Dr Boon-Seang Chu, Lecturer in Food Science, Programme Leader of MSc Food & Drink Innovation, Abertay University