Innovation That Matters

Qatar is a rich country but it lacks domestic sources of protein | Photo source Kazuo Ota on Unsplash

Making protein out of methane

Food & Drink

The protein will be used as a supplement in feed for fish and animals

Spotted: Qatar is a small country rich in natural gas resources. While these resources have made it one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it has little farmland, and its climate is not conducive to agriculture. The lack of farmland means that Qatar lacks the ability to produce protein for its population. To reduce the country’s dependence on imports, leading sustainable protein company Unibio is partnering with recently founded industrial biotechnology company Gulf Biotech to develop the Uniprotein Plant – a facility that will produce protein locally from methane, the main constituent of natural gas.

The protein will be used as a protein supplement in feed for fish and animals to tackle the deficit in Qatar’s protein production. Compared to soy production, the companies say that Uniprotein uses no arable land and requires significantly less water – making it an ideal solution for Qatar.

The plant will use microbial fermentation to convert methane into high-quality protein. The continuous-flow fermentation process allows for a high conversion rate, meaning that more of the methane is converted into protein. The protein is then treated and purified before it is used. The result is a pellet with 11 per cent water content and 70 per cent protein, comparing favorably with high-value proteins like soy.

Gulf Biotech has completed its feasibility study on the viability of the plant, which will be completed by early 2023.

Springwise has been tracking the many innovative ways in which microbes can be harnessed, from their use in developing a replacement for vegetable oil to hydrogen, fertiliser and industrial applications.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



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