A UK biotech business is developing a process that could turn industrial emissions into fish and animal feed.
The company, Deep Branch, has secured investment of €2.5 million from the European Innovation Council Accelerator fund to scale up the sustainable generation of protein that could transform food production and supply chains.
The funding will go towards building a new facility at the Netherlands-based Brightlands Chemelot Campus, a hub for circular chemistry and chemical processes, which Deep Branch expects to be operational by Q2 2021.
The REACT-FIRST project uses microbes to convert CO2 from industrial emissions into a new type of single-cell protein, called Proton. Deep Branch is using this to create a low carbon animal feed with a nutritional profile that is comparable with fishmeal, the gold-standard protein source in aquafeed. Proton can be produced year-round, reducing the impact of any seasonal fluctuations in price or yield.
REACT-FIRST is supported by grant funding from Innovate UK, an agency of the UK government, and brings together 10 consortium partners from industry and academia. The project aims to gather valuable data about the cost, digestibility, nutritional quality and carbon footprint of Proton.
Working with renewable power company Drax, as well as a consortium of industry leading partners, the technology has already been proven on a smaller scale, Deep Branch says. This latest funding will enable Deep Branch to scale up increasing production to enable animal feed manufacturers to expedite performance testing of the new protein.
Deep Branch was one of only two UK companies to be shortlisted for the EIC programme.
Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch, said: “Setting up the pilot plant represents an important next step in finding the perfect recipe for Proton that meets the requirements of feed producers. We’ll be undertaking further trials with BioMar and AB Agri, two leading animal feed companies that support the salmon and poultry farming industries. Thanks to the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation support, we can expand our production capacity to match the volumes that feed producers need to run these trials.”

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