Consortium to build bio-based protein biorefinery

Sustainable BioProducts eyes commercial launch with team of industry veterans
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Alex_Traksel

A new project has been launched to build a first-of-its-kind integrated biorefinery facility to produce proteins from low-cost sustainable feedstocks.

The PLNITUDE project has been launched by Scottish biotechnology company 3F BIO alongside a consortium of nine other partners.

It has secured funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The flagship project is developed with lead industrial partner Alcogroup and will be based in the city of Ghent, Belgium.

The plant is co-funded by 3F BIO and the European Commission under the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), who are investing €17 million.

“This project addresses this challenge by combining the benefits of biotechnology and the use of natural processes to support the efficient manufacturing of sustainable protein,” said Jim Laird, CEO of 3F BIO.

PLENITUDE addresses the protein challenge by integrating two established processes into a flagship, large-scale, first-of-its-kind, biorefinery producing bioethanol and sustainable food protein.

The process takes a proportion of the sustainable cereal crops that feed the biorefinery to create a feedstock for the fermentation process that produces ABUNDA mycoprotein.

The global consumption of meat protein currently totals around 500 million tonnes per year, with less than 1% derived from non-animal sources.

Experts including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predict that the demand for non-animal proteins may increase to account for 10-20% of the growing total demand, which would create a need for 100-200 million tonnes of plant protein by 2050.

With initial output capacity of 16,000 tonnes per annum, this flagship project will increase the availability of sustainable, high-quality food protein.

The collaboration between the biorefinery operator, food producers and technology providers will create new cross-sector interconnections, new bio-based value chains, and new bio-based ‘consumer’ products.