THE world’s first facility for converting methane gas into a sustainable feed ingredient was officially opened in Teesside yesterday.
The plant, set up by US based Calysta, will produce sample quantities of FeedKind protein as a fishmeal replacement.
A full-scale commercial factory will be built in North America at a site to be announced by the end of this year, with production expected to start within two years.
Leading figures in the aquaculture industry, including from Marine Harvest, along with retailers Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, investors and feed companies attended the launch in Redcar.
Visitors came from Japan, the Middle East, south-east Asia, Greece, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the UK, to tour the £30 million facility, which was financed by a small group of investors, including the Dutch based AquaSpark, as well as an Exceptional Regional Growth Fund (EGRF) award.
FeedKind protein is produced in the world’s only commercially validated gas fermentation process. It is a natural, traceable and safe non-animal source of protein, said Calysta.
It is approved for sale and use in many animal feeds in the EU and has been tested on multiple fish species, including salmon. The facility will become fully operational toward the end of 2016, said the company.
At the opening ceremony, Calysta president and CEO Alan Shaw (pictured) said the goal was to get FeedKind ‘adopted as a gold standard replacement for fishmeal’ and that 45 per cent of the people in the world who use fishmeal would use the product within six years.
‘The opening of this plant represents the end of a decade of development and heralds a new era in the race to sustainably feed the world’s growing population,’ he said.
‘By 2050 the global population is expected to rise from 7.4 billion today to 9.6 billion and require 70 per cent more protein than is currently available.
‘Calysta can help meet this need by supplying the aquaculture industry with a naturally produced, sustainable and traceable feed alternative to replace conventional ingredients based on fishmeal and soya.
‘Calysta’s proprietary technology enables retailers and consumers to have increased confidence in the integrity of their food.
‘Our first focus is the salmon farming industry and we were very pleased to welcome representatives from a number of key producers today. FeedKind protein has been shown to improve growth rates, nitrogen retention and gut health in Atlantic salmon.’
Shaw predicted that FeedKind, which will be produced for trials from the Teesside plant, would be ‘transformative’, especially for the shrimp industry.
The process for converting methane into a feed protein, patented by Calysta, was developed after years of research in Norway, but it was ‘the dramatic shift in the cost of methane that made it economically viable’ said Shaw.
Josh Silverman, Calysta’s product and innovation officer, said the focus now is on getting the product to market. The US facility will contain 20 bigger versions of the Teesside plant, which is seen as a ‘model’ on which to base the commercial operation.
‘My hope is to build these all around the world in the future. There is a lot of methane so the ability to sell it to a higher value protein market is great.’
Earlier this year Calysta partnered with Cargill for production of FeedKind protein in North America and entered into a global joint marketing agreement.