Innovation Fund Denmark invests DKK 15m in Unibio-led research project
The way to secure meat on the table in future
Future animal feed may consist of protein produced on the basis of natural gas which might otherwise be flared as a waste product in many places around the world. The environmentally friendly protein allows people to eat meat without feeling guilty about the carbon footprint. Innovation Fund Denmark invests DKK 15m in the project.
We often hear about future food shortages, and we hear time and again about the existing food production's adverse environmental impact. This can be changed by new technology from Unibio A/S. In cooperation with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the Southern University of Denmark, Aarhus University and Vestjyllands Andel, Unibio will launch a research project on the production of a high-quality protein and feed product for pig-meat producers.
Unibio already owns the patent on the fermentor design allowing the production of UniProtein®, a single cell protein (SCP), in a process in which special bacteria "eat" methane gas molecules and thereby grow and are converted into protein granules. After having focused on developing a fermentor technology capable of handling the process, it is now time to focus on the end product.
Henrik Busch-Larsen, CEO in Unibio A/S, says:
"For several years Unibio has focused on developing a fermentor design enabling the profitable production of SCP, and Unibio is now the only company in the world capable of demonstrating production of SCP. The exciting natural next step is, with very competent project partners, to focus on the product's properties and map out the potential environmental benefits of the protein."
It is of utmost importance that animal feed contains the right proteins to secure optimal growth. The project objective is to tailor an amino acid profile suitable for pig feeding. UniProtein® may potentially replace conventional protein sources such as soybeans and fishmeal. The cooperation with DTU Biosustain and Aarhus University will give an insight into the use of UniProtein® in animal feed due to key competences within systems biology technologies (DTU) and animal physiology, animal feed, metabolism and utilization of nutrients (AU).
Another challenge is to develop fermentation equipment in a larger scale, allowing the technology to be sold abroad. Especially in the large oil-producing and oil-consuming countries large quantities of natural gas are flared which could be put to better use in the production of protein. DTU Chemical Engineering will establish and run a pilot plant to develop equipment for fermentation and concentration of UniProtein® for animal feed. The experience gained from these activities will allow a quick transfer to a full-size production plant.
The cooperation partners will also take a closer look at life cycle assessments and examine whether the new protein sources can be integrated in a 100% renewable energy system.
The Technical University of Denmark, DTU Chemical Engineering, DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby, Krist V. Gernaey, Professor, +45 30585470.
The Technical University of Denmark, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, DK-2970 Hørsholm, Markus Herrgard, Senior Researcher, +45 24921780.
Aarhus University, Department of Animal Science, Hanne Damgaard Poulsen, Professor & Head of Research Unit, +45 22161386.
The University of Southern Denmark, Department of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, DK-5230 Odense M, Lorie Hamelin, +45 65509525.
Unibio A/S, DK-5230 Odense M, Henrik Busch-Larsen, CEO, +45 63104040.
Vestjyllands Andel, DK-6950 Ringkøbing, Torben Jensen, Product Manager, +45 99746462.
Budget: DKK 28m.
Innovation Fund Denmark’s investment: DKK 15m.
Project duration: 3.5 years