Transforming carbon dioxide released from power stations into high protein animal feed, is the aim of REACT-FIRST, an initiative that aims to create the UK’s first scalable route to the sustainable protein generation.
The project, which will contribute to meeting the UK’s Net Zero climate change commitment as well as to the circular economy, has gained £3M from Innovate UK as part of the government’s Transforming Food Production strand of the Industrial Strategy.
Protein from waste gas
REACT-FIRST is led by Deep Branch, a carbon recycling biotechnology company that has pioneered a process that uses microbes to convert carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and turns them into high-value proteins.
Members of the REACT-FIRST consortium are:
Deep Branch, Drax, BioMar, AB Agri, Sainsbury’s, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), Synthetic Biology Research Centre at the University of Nottingham (SBRC Nottingham), The Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences, and Innogen at the University of Edinburgh.
An alternative to imported protein
REACT-FIRST uses technology developed by Deep Branch, which employs microbes to convert carbon dioxide directly from industrial emissions into a new type of single-cell protein, called Proton .
Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch, explains that most animal feed protein sources are imported from overseas, making the UK dependent on complicated and fragile supply chains. “Deep Branch’s technology represents a new way of generating more sustainable animal feeds. Creating protein from waste gas.”
REACT-FIRST will obtain critical data about cost, digestibility, nutritional quality and carbon footprint of Proton, creating a sustainable source of will contribute to reducing the environmental impact of meat production systems.
REACT-FIRST, with its consortium of industrial and academic organisations, is the first time that the resources and expertise of all parties have been unified towards a single goal.
Contribution to Net Zero
Speaking about the REACT-FIRST project, Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “To protect our environment and meet our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we must harness the very best of UK innovation across all sectors, supporting the most creative and pioneering ideas.
“From robotics assisting our farmers in fruit picking, to technology that converts CO2-to clean animal feed, the incredible and cutting-edge projects we are backing today represent the future of farming. Working with the best of British science, we are accelerating the transition to net zero food production, boosting jobs and productivity and driving forward the UK’s economic recovery.”
Melanie Welham, Executive Director, BBSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation, adds: “This project, and others like it will help increase UK agricultural productivity and global competitiveness. At UKRI our aim is to turn the food production sector into a beacon of innovation. Brilliant ideas like this one go a long way to making food production more sustainable, efficient and less carbon intensive but they need support to get them from the drawing board to the farm.
“UKRI’s funding programme for this sector is ongoing. In our current funding round we’ve awarded funding to 9 innovative companies. In the future we encourage businesses to come forward with fresh ideas to help UK agriculture.”