The world has two significant challenges to overcome that are intrinsically linked. Firstly, animal feed demand is set to double by 2050 to supply the growing population. At the same time, protein for animal diets is too resource-intensive to meet growing demand.
However, there is an answer to this problem. We’ve developed our single-cell protein, Proton™, specifically for the animal feed industry. Here are five ways it is enabling a more sustainable feed industry.
1. The core technology used to produce Proton utilises clean recycled carbon dioxide, reducing the reliance on arable land for protein production.
We create protein using a process called gas fermentation, where natural microbes are cultivated using clean carbon dioxide and hydrogen. We have proven the technology, using carbon dioxide from the bioenergy plant of Drax Power Group, the UK’s biggest renewable energy provider. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a world-leading carbon capture technology developer, has demonstrated its ability to purify carbon dioxide produced by Drax, which we have then fed into our process, showing we can produce clean protein with no need for arable land.
2. Proton is produced locally driving down transportation needs and costs.
Whereas most of the world’s protein used in animal feed is produced in South America and shipped elsewhere, Proton can be produced anywhere with renewable energy and carbon dioxide. By producing Proton in Europe for the continent’s salmon feed industry, the protein-rich ingredient significantly drives down the costs and carbon emissions associated with transportation. By reducing and optimising the freight distances of the animal feed supply chain, we estimate that the annual production of 100,000 tonnes of Proton would save the equivalent of 60,000 barrels of oil by avoiding transcontinental shipping.
3. Proton prevents deforestation
Contrary to plant-based protein sources, the gas fermentation process on which our core technology is based doesn’t require arable land, favourable weather conditions or sunlight. The microbes used to produce Proton are cultivated in fermentation vessels that only require renewable energy and carbon dioxide. With increasing demand to grow crops for food, animal feed and biofuel, deforestation to make way for arable land is causing dramatic biodiversity loss. We calculate that producing 100,000 tonnes of Proton will prevent the requirement for a soy plantation three times the size of Paris.
4. Steering the animal industry away from needing arable land reduces biodiversity loss caused by deforestation and overfishing.
The current model for producing protein for animal feed comes at another environmental cost. Deforestation has been linked to biodiversity loss due to the destruction of natural habitats for hundreds, sometimes thousands of species. Similarly, most of the elements in fish feed come from the traditional fishing of wild species to feed farmed fish, leading to biodiversity loss in our oceans. Switching from conventional protein sources reliant on arable land or fishmeal (produced from wild fish) to Proton gives us a chance to preserve and restore natural habitats and biodiversity.
5. Proton requires minimal amounts of water.
Agricultural practices associated with the production of plant-based proteins for animal feed require enormous amounts of water. As animal feed is set to double by 2050, protein sources that rely on arable land will add to the already pressing issue of water scarcity, which is becoming more acute in a growing number of regions worldwide due to rising temperatures and high levels of water consumption. Because Proton is produced in a controlled environment, we’re able to be extremely water efficient.
The sustainability of animal farming and the reduction of emissions are two of the biggest problems of our time. At Deep Branch, we’re tackling these problems through the development of Proton™. Rather than relying on conventional protein sources like fishmeal and soy, with Proton feed producers can effectively lower their carbon footprint across the entire value chain and produce animal feed in a sustainable manner.
Learn more about the technology behind Proton here