Qatar-based industrial biotech investor Gulf Biotech has signed an agreement with Danish sustainable protein firm Unibio Group, paving the way for the construction of a natural gas processing plant that will produce protein needed in the manufacturing of fish feed.

The use of natural gas-derived protein reduces pressure on the need for soybean and other imports considered critical in achieving food security but diverted into the making of fishmeal.

Gulf Biotech’s plan is to produce sustainable and organic protein from a proposed single-module processing plant consisting of four “U-Loop” fermenters that have a total annual output of 6,000 metric tons (MT) of Uniprotein.

“The technology is based on a modular design and extra modules can easily be added to expand the production. Gulf Biotech will now focus on planning for the construction of the facility,” the companies said in a statement. “The Uniprotein produced in the plant will be used as a protein supplement in feed for fish and animals to replace unsustainable existing products derived from fish meal or soy.”

With the Gulf Biotech protein-making plant, the Middle East region would have its first natural-gas-to-protein facility utilizing Unibio’s U-Loop technology.

Manufacture of Uniprotein requires 1/300th of the water and 1/25,000th of the land compared to soy production, the company said.

The government of Qatar is optimistic the innovative natural gas-derived protein production will help in tackling the “highly pressing challenge of producing sustainable food for the world’s rapidly growing population,” Gulf Biotech said.

“The abundance of natural gas in Qatar makes the country an obvious choice for the production of Uniprotein,” Unibio CEO Henrik Busch-Larsen said.

Uniprotein has received approval from the European Union for animal and fish feed, and is certified organic by Organic Farmers and Growers Ltd. – the leading organic certification control body approved by the United Kingdom.  

Photo courtesy of Unibio Group

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