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    Harnessing biogas to cultivate single-cell protein
    2 months agoopen1
    Harnessing biogas to cultivate single-cell protein (SCP) for animal feed offers a sustainable solution to rising protein demand and environmental degradation. Derived from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic waste, biogas, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, provides a renewable energy source. By utilizing methane oxidizing bacteria (MOB) and hydrogen oxidizing bacteria (HOB) to convert biogas into SCP, we repurpose waste into valuable protein sources without competing with food production or requiring additional land and water resources, aligning with the urgent need for a protein transition in food systems. Integration of MOB and HOB allows efficient utilization of methane and carbon dioxide, fostering a circular economy model. Advancements in cultivation modes and reactor design promise increased productivity and quality, enabling scalable, cost-competitive production. SCP, with protein content of up to 70% and high in essential amino acids, offers a solution to the global food crisis while promoting ecosystem resilience. By replacing fossil-based resources in current MOB-based SCP processes with biogenically sourced biogas, companies can enhance sustainability credentials and reduce reliance on finite fossil fuels. Biogas-derived SCP production systems could be retrofitted to existing biogas plants (of which there are over 18,000 in the EU alone). As AD is a biological process (bacterial), biogas plants are already equipped to manage the sustainable cultivation of bacteria, including employing people trained in biochemistry, and the routine use of labs (sometime on-site) for biological and chemical testing. Having been in the biogas sector since 2013, I feel I have a good understanding of the challenges and potential benefits from this idea.  My own (unverified) calculations suggest that 1,000m3 of biogas could produce an income of up to €1,700 from protein (pricing equivalent to fishmeal), versus approx. €180 income from electricity generation.