Emissions-to-feed company set to build test unit in Netherlands

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In the Netherlands, British biotechnology startup Deep Branch is building a production facility to make protein for fish and animal feed from carbon dioxide emissions. 

Funded by a €2.5 million ($3 million) grant from EU Horizon 2020 – European Innovation Council (EIC) accelerator funding, the plant will be based at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen. It is expected to come online in the second quarter of 2021. 

Deep Branch uses microbes and waste CO2 emissions to produce its protein, trade named Proton. 

“Fishmeal has a big part to play in aquaculture nutrition and will continue to do so in the future,” Deep Branch CEO Peter Rowe tells SeafoodSource. “But ultimately, as the industry grows, we need to find new protein sources to augment that supply. The reality is that the feed ingredient sector is a commodity market, where things are priced according to their nutritional value more than anything else. This means it would be naïve for any novel ingredient producer to expect a premium.”

Salmon and broiler chickens will be the first to test the company’s protein. At full scale—ideally by 2025—the company expects to be producing 100,000 metric tons of Proton annually. Plants will be collocated near industrial CO2-emitting factories. 

“At these sites, you are talking tens of billions of tons of CO2. Their priority is huge scale decarbonization. So while we are not really going to make a big dent in that volume, it’s going to be efficient for us to piggyback the infrastructure that they have in place,” Rowe adds.