Calysta Uses Methane to Make Plant and Animal-Free “Protein Without Limits”

Based in California, Calysta is a biotech firm using a patented fermentation platform to produce what it describes as “protein without limits”.

The process involves using microorganisms to convert methane into single-cell proteins. It is powered by renewable energy and does not require any plant or animal inputs, meaning no arable land is used. Water and energy consumption are also far lower than for conventional proteins.

Calysta’s products are intended to help meet the world’s growing demand for sustainable proteins, improving food security while preserving biodiversity. The company initially focused on producing food for fish, livestock, and pets, but has now developed a product called Positive Protein for use in human foods.

Positive Protein is described as highly nutritious, with the best possible digestibility rating for protein ingredients. It is also said to be rich in branched-chain amino acids, making it comparable to high-quality animal proteins.

The facility in China. © Calysta

“Incredibly proud moment”

In 2016, Calysta opened a pilot facility in Teeside, England, after receiving a £2.8 million grant from the UK government. The same year, the company raised $30 million from Cargill, followed by a further $40 million from investors including Temasek in 2017.

Last year, Calysta opened its first commercial-scale facility — which can produce 20,000 tonnes of product per year — in Chongqing, China.

“Today is an incredibly proud moment,” said Calysta co-founder and CEO Alan Shaw Ph.D. on the opening of the facility. “We have spent the last ten years perfecting our technology, and it is exciting to have successfully switched on the world’s first industrial-scale alternative protein fermenter. This is a huge step as we aim to help make the world more food secure.”

He added, “This is an exciting time for Calysta as a whole, as we continue to work on bringing a host of additional protein ingredients for food and feed applications to market.”

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