The Danish biotechnology player said it has entered into an agreement with Malaysian company, PETRONAS Chemicals Group Berhad, with the aim of conducting product trials of its methane gas derived feed ingredient, Uniprotein, for the Southeast Asian market.
Unibio’s fermentation technology is based on converting natural gas into a highly concentrated protein product, Uniprotein.
“As it is a new product, it [PETRONAS] wants to test it in a local market,” said Unibio CEO, Henrik Busch-Larsen.
Unibio said Uniprotein, which is approved in the EU for use in all animal and fish feed, has been tested in feed for salmon, calves, pigs, chickens, mink and blue fox with positive results in terms of acceptance and growth rates.
Depending on the outcome of the product trials, Unibio and PETRONAS said they would consider undertaking a joint feasibility study to assess any potential future partnership.
“If successfully tested, then we would be looking at extending the collaboration,” said the CEO.
When asked whether the outcome of any potential future alliance between the two companies might involve the building of a Uniprotein production facility targeting the Southeast Asian market, he would not comment further.
In September this year, Unibio announced that Protelux had completed construction of a 6,000 ton per year methane to feed protein plant in Russia, based on the Danish’s company’s technology.
Four fermenters encompassing natural gas absorbing methanotrophic bacteria have been constructed as part of the facility, which is located in Ivangorod in the Leningrad region. These bacteria serve as the source of protein for the manufacturing process.
Unibio and Protelux are currently testing the plant: “Initial responses are very good. We are very happy about this huge step for the company,” said Busch-Larsen.
In an update today, he told us the commissioning of that factory is now expected by early near year.
Protelux, which is made up of a range of private investors, acquired the Russian license for the technology to make protein from natural gas using bacteria from Unibio in 2016; the consortium has invested close to $35m into the facility.
The investors said they aim to create a major player in the domestic protein feed market and establish a new export-oriented industry.
Unibio runs its research and pilot facilities at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and its demonstration-scale plant in Kalundborg, Denmark. The technology was developed in close cooperation with DTU; the production facility in Kalundborg is co-financed by Innovation Fund Denmark.