Planet Care

251: “Proton”, single-cell protein from CO2


Currently we struggle to feed our current global population and unless we drastically change the way we produce our food, this problem will only get worse. Most animal feed protein sources are imported from overseas, making the UK dependent on complicated and fragile supply chains. This is a particular problem with protein.


In July 2018, Peter Rowe and Robert Mansfield, based in Nottingham, England, founded Deep Branch Biotechnology to develop their solution of using of microbes to convert CO2 directly from industrial emissions into high-value products, specifically a totally novel, new type of high value single-cell protein animal feed, or SCP, called Proton.

Deep Branch’s logo is “Transforming the polluters of today into the producers of Tomorrow.”

The first sustainable protein product coming out of the company is Autotrofish, nutritionally tailored for aquaculture, making it a sustainable alternative to fishmeal. It is made from single cell protein generated from captured emissions.

The company is also working on developing single cell protein for monogastrics—that is, animals with single-chambered stomachs, like humans, rats, dogs and pigs, cats, horses and rabbits—and ruminants, which have multi-chambered stomachs, such as cattle, antelopes, sheep and goats.

In July 2020, with financial support from the government in the form of £3 million funding from Innovate UK, Deep Branch set up REACT-FIRST to contribute to meeting the UK’s Net Zero climate change commitment as well as to the circular economy. It involves ten industry and academic partners, which all share a commitment to tackling the global climate crisis and the goal of achieving neutral/negative carbon emissions.

The members of the REACT-FIRST consortium are: Drax – the UK’s largest single site renewable electricity generator and pioneer of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS); BioMar – one of the world’s largest aquafeed producers; AB Agri – a global agri-food business and leading producer of monogastric feed; Sainsbury’s – recognised as world’s best sustainable seafood retailer in 2017; Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) – a network of 100+ key stakeholders from the aquaculture industry; Synthetic Biology Research Centre, University of Nottingham (SBRC Nottingham) – the world-leading gas fermentation research group; The Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling – the UK’s leading aquaculture research centre; Nottingham Trent University, School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences – experts in assessing sustainable poultry production; and Innogen, University of Edinburgh – experts in value chain integration and responsible innovation.

Discover Solution 252: recyclable pantyhose

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