Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that can adversely affect the environment. Generated in relatively small amounts on farms from the fermentation of manure, it’s been challenging to use the gas productively, but the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) has now come up with a method to convert these sources of methane-rich biogas into high-protein raw material for animal feeds.
Biogas is generated on farms in anaerobic digesters that are becoming an increasingly common sight in Europe, as well as from landfill sites and wastewater treatment plants. VTT has now developed a method of using these relatively small quantities of methane through a process that reduces emissions and improves the country’s self sufficiency in proteins.
The new method from Finland is based on bacteria that grow under aerobic conditions, using methane as a source of carbon and energy. The end product is a single-cell protein biomass with a protein content of around 60 percent.
Filtered, pasteurized and dried, the material has potential as a high-quality feed ingredient. Previous studies have shown that single-cell proteins can be an effective substitute for ingredients such as meat, soybean, egg whites or fish in animal feeds and human food.
Finland is not the only country seeking alternative protein sources for food and feed. This week in Denmark, biotech company Unibio is scheduled to open its new facility that uses advanced technology to produce single-cell protein from natural gas.