Deep Branch anticipates first commercial production of its single cell protein in 2027

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Deep Branch and Landsvirkjun teams at the signing of an MoU aimed at evaluating the feasibility of constructing Deep Branch’s first commercial-scale plant in Iceland. © Deep Branch
Deep Branch and Landsvirkjun teams at the signing of an MoU aimed at evaluating the feasibility of constructing Deep Branch’s first commercial-scale plant in Iceland. © Deep Branch

Related tags Single cell protein Deep Branch BioMar Aquaculture Sustainability

Single cell protein innovator, Deep Branch, is collaborating with the National Power Company of Iceland, Landsvirkjun, to assess the feasibility of building its first commercial-scale plant in Iceland.

Following the construction of its pilot plant in the Netherlands, Deep Branch, which uses clean and renewable carbon and energy sources to create ingredients, now requires an industrial-scale facility to help support expansion of the production of Proton, its single cell protein (SCP) developed for use in animal feed.

It expects that first commercial production unit for Proton to go live in 2027, and it is currently scouting potential locations for the facility. The availability of hydrogen – the required energy source for the company’s continuous fermentation process – will be a crucial factor in the selection process, as well as the proximity of downstream markets such as feed producers and aquafarmers.

Having already decarbonized 85% of its energy system, Iceland has the potential to utilize its abundant renewable resources to become the first fully green hydrogen economy, said the UK company. 

The agreement will see Deep Branch and Landsvirkjun collaborate on a life cycle assessment (LCA) study as well as undertaking techno-economic analysis (TEA) to determine the suitability of sites. Both studies are due to be completed by the end of this year. 

Founded in 2018, Deep Branch has around 30 staff based in the UK and the Netherlands. It works with feed producers in industries such as aquaculture and partners with upstream companies such as carbon dioxide suppliers to deploy its technology efficiently and safely, and has already established relationships with major international stakeholders, including Drax, BioMar and Sainsbury’s.

Landsvirkjun is Iceland’s largest energy company and produces electricity solely from renewable energy resources; hydroelectric, geothermal and wind energy. It owns and operates 18 power stations, including 15 hydropower stations and 3 geothermal stations, as well as two wind turbines. The company said it wants to take a leading role in decarbonizing the Icelandic economy and developing the country’s eco-industrial economy by collaborating with hydrogen-utilizing industries and potential investors.

Commenting on the new partnership, Pete Rowe, Deep Branch’s CEO, said: “Collaborating with Landsvirkjun is a deliberate step in our process of determining the optimal location for our first commercial production facility. Iceland is a strong example of how renewable energy can power a modern economy and be utilized as a resource in the agriculture industry.”

Sigurdur Markusson, executive director of innovation at Landsvirkjun, added: “We believe that Iceland can play a big role in powering new and innovative solutions for the food system with our unique access to renewable resources. Deep Branch is a great fit as a partner as its distinctive production process could promote new circular opportunities and create value for Iceland’s rapidly expanding land and sea-based aquaculture industry.”

BioMar and Deep Branch led research

Earlier this month, Deep Branch and Danish aqua feed manufacturer, BioMar, signed a long-term agreement to “redefine conventional aquaculture feed ingredients”​ and improve the aquaculture industry’s efficiency, profitability, and sustainability.

The partnership’s initial focus will be to optimize salmon feed using Deep Branch’s protein ingredient, Proton. The two entities will run a wide range of nutritional assessments to test the performance and digestibility of the raw material in terms of impact on fish health and growth.

Both Deep Branch and BioMar are part of the end-to-end, value chain-wide REACT-FIRST consortium, supported by grant funding from Innovate UK. The REACT-FIRST program is designed to obtain critical data on the cost, digestibility, nutritional quality, and carbon footprint of Proton.

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