Danish feed protein developer signs first licensing deal

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock.com/ermetico72
© istock.com/ermetico72

Related tags Protein Natural gas Nutrition

Danish methane gas to feed protein developer, Unibio, says it has just signed its first license agreement in relation to its proprietary U-Loop technology.

The deal will see a production facility with “industrial scale tonnage output”​ and multiple U-Loop fermenters up and running in an Eastern European based site by the end of 2017, Henrik Busch-Larsen, Unibio CEO, told FeedNavgiator. 

“We believe that timeline is manageable,”​ he said.  

The Unibio boss said he can't yet disclose the name of the investor nor the actual location of the plant. "I will be in a position to divulge that in three months time,"​ he added.

UniProtein was approved for animal nutrition in EU in July 1995 according to Commission Directive 95/33/EC.

In a study, published in the journal Meat Science​, feeding pigs bacterial protein meal was found to improve the oxidative stability and sensory profile of the pork. 

Source: Meat Science 71 (2005), 719–729
Title: “Changes in fatty acid composition and improved sensory quality of backfat and meat of pigs fed bacterial protein meal”
Meat Science 71 (2005), 719–729
Authors: M Øverland, NP Kjos, E Olsen, A Skrede

But Busch-Larsen indicated Unibio has received an attractive upfront payment from the licensee: “We now have a paying client.”  ​And he expects an attractive revenue stream in the years to come following successful commissioning of the plant.

“Discussions with our investor have been underway for quite some time but we were not able to sign off on the licence agreement until we had all the pieces of the puzzle in place. By that I mean the construction of two Danish facilities: our new pilot plant, in cooperation with the Technical University of Denmark​ (DTU) in Lyngby, and the green light to build a demonstration and small-scale production site in Kalundborg by year end,” ​he said

The aim of the new deal is to supply the European and Russian markets with Unibio’s protein ingredient, said the CEO.

Gas to protein process 

The Danish company's U-Loop technology enables natural gas to be converted into a single cell protein – UniProtein - for use in feed, with the company’s primary focus being pig diets for now.

It does this via a process in which bacteria ‘eat’ the C1 connections in the methane gas, thereby grow and are converted into protein granules through a traditional downstream process. 

Unibio’s role in the licensing deal will be as technology and service provider: “This agreement is about collaboration between Unibio and the partner for the long term. We will ensure the licensee has access to the equipment and technology suppliers we have been working with in Denmark for the past number of years,”​ explained Busch-Larsen.

The CEO said when you look at the pressure on agricultural land and world fisheries, its ingredient is a much more sustainable source of protein for fish and livestock than soy or fishmeal. Unibio has recently raised capital to accelerate commercialization of its U-Loop technology, and it received a USD$2.2m grant from Innovation Fund Denmark last year.

Last month, we reported​ on how the Danish company had sold the entire production from its future site in Kalundborg to feed manufacturer, Vestjyllands Andel.

Its technology is similar to that used by another methane gas to feed protein developer, US based Calysta. 

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