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Fish, poultry and pig producers can now test novel gas to feed protein

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By Jane Byrne

09-May-2017
Last updated on 09-May-2017 at 16:03 GMT2017-05-09T16:03:23Z

© Calysta
© Calysta

California based biotechnology company, Calysta, says it has produced sufficient quantity of its novel protein, FeedKind, to be able to ship samples for testing worldwide.

The company’s protein, which is targeted at the fish, livestock and pet food sectors, is a biomass produced by a microbial culture with natural gas as sole nutrition and energy source.

Calysta acquired the technology when it bought Norway based BioProtein A/S in May 2014.

Its pilot plant at Teeside in the North East of England, which became operational in Q4 2016, has generated four metric tons of the feed ingredient to date, while successfully maintaining a continuous fermentation for eight weeks, it reported.

Calysta said this first run of product is aimed at supporting market development in the EU, the US, Japan, Southeast Asia, China, and Australia.

FeedKind production process: 

The protein product is formed during the fermentation of methanotrophic microorganisms with small amounts of scavenger microorganisms to assist in culture stability, along with methane, ammonia and mineral salts. Natural gas or other methane source is pumped through a specialized fermenter, and the microorganisms metabolise the gas as their sole source of energy, producing a high-protein biomass.

Wet product is extracted from the fermenter and dried, before being pelletized and packaged for shipping. Typically, the fermenter will run for seven weeks continuously, before requiring three days of cleaning. The cycle will then repeat.

The Teesside market introduction facility, which has grant funding from the UK government and is a scaled-down version of a commercial plant, has met its target metrics such as yield and productivity, said the company.

Alan Shaw, CEO of Calysta, told this publication previously that UK site would also provide samples of the protein for the company to secure registrations beyond Europe, a market where FeedKind is already approved for sale.

“We are particularly interested in securing a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registration. But, to do that, we need contemporary samples of the protein,” he said in February 2016.

Alan Shaw CEO Calysta and Anna Turley MP at launch of Teeside pilot facility in September 2016

Last month, Calysta, in partnership with Cargill, kick-started engineering work on the first commercial scale facility for FeedKind at Cargill’s corn oil production site in Memphis, Tennessee. The facility is planned to come online in early 2019. It is expected to produce up to 20,000 metric tons per year of the methane gas to feed protein from two full-scale reactors initially and expanding to up to 200,000 metric tons per year when operating at full capacity.

Initial interest from the feed industry in the protein ingredient has been strong, said Allan LeBlanc, senior director and FeedKind product manager.

“The industry is actively seeking natural, sustainable sources of protein that can help future-proof their supply chains,” he said. “FeedKind protein offers price, quality, and supply consistency that is rare within the feed industry.”

Calysta is looking to aquaculture feeds as an initial market priority, he said. “As a product that is approved for use in Europe, the salmon industry is a high priority for Calysta,” he added.

Ongoing research includes feeding trials to validate the ingredient’s use in feeds for shrimp, yellowtail and warm-water, finfish species, he said.

At the start of this month, Calysta also announced it had recently generated $40m in Series D funding from new and existing investors, and that it intended to use a majority of the proceeds to advance commercial scale production.

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