Big picture - Why invest in Unibio
UniProtein®, the end-product resulting from UniBio’s U-Loop technology, addresses the world’s growing need for animal protein, which will continue to increase in line with population growth and the emergence of a large middle class with a high purchasing power.
UniProtein® is a protein-rich biomass (72.9% protein) and can be used as a direct supplement in animal feed compounds. UniProtein® takes the form of a free-flowing reddish brown, granule with a particle size of 150-200 μm. It has a long shelf life, and the production process always results in a uniform product.
The product is not genetically manipulated but is the result of a natural process industrialized by Unibio. UniProtein® is a non-polluting product, as it is produced by a microbial culture with natural gas as the sole carbon and energy source. The only waste product from the production of UniProtein® is clean water. The product is free from toxins, dioxin and heavy metals due to the controlled production process and the fact that all minerals used are food grade.
UniProtein® was approved for animal nutrition in EU in July 1995 according to Commission Directive 95/33/EC. Under new EU Commission regulations introduced in June 2011 (No 575/2011) the requirement for a general pre-market authorization for UniProtein® in feedstuffs was abolished.
UniProtein® is well suited as a feed ingredient for animals with a short life span. The product has been tested as feed for salmon, calves, pigs and chickens with positive results in terms of acceptance and growth.
UniProtein® is a close substitute to high-quality fishmeal (LT Fishmeal), but it can also substitute soybean meal, both being two increasingly scarce resources (see amino acid composition tab on the left for a comparison with LT Fishmeal).
If it is used as an additive for humans or for animals with long life spans, the UniProtein® content of nucleic acids will become a problem, since it can cause kidney and bladder stones. To offset this, the nucleic acids are neutralized through hydrolysis with an insignificant loss of protein. After this process the product can be used as an additive for human food. The taste is neutral, and even a – nutritionally very poor – diet of corn porridge can be turned into an excellent diet. Other products that can be derived from the hydrolysed primary product are flavour enhancers, which can replace the now forbidden ”Bovril” derived from bone meal. A long range of adhesives can also be produced from the hydrolysed product giving Unibio access to a profitable market outside the food sector.
Unibio is committed to the continuous development of the U-Loop design and product applications with sustainability in focus.
The use of feed mix for animals has a certain impact on the environment in terms of how the leftovers from the animals affect the surroundings. The EFPro2 project supported by Innovation Fund Denmark aims at the development of tailor-made protein to target specific species of animals.
The goal of the project is to prove that an amino acid profile specifically designed for pigs will:
lead to higher productivity
use less additives in the feed mix
add fewer nitrates to the surroundings
Click on the below tabs to read more about UniBio’s commitment to sustainability:
• About 140 billion cubic metres (5 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas are being flared and vented annually.
Why not use this gas to feed the world?
With the Unibio technology it is possible to produce approx. 70,000,000 tonnes of UniProtein® by using the gas otherwise flared. UniProtein® is comparable to high-quality LT fishmeal. In 2014 the average price of one Metric Ton of Peru CIF fishmeal was USD 1921.47
The UniBio technology enables venting and gas flaring to be reduced as it utilizes an environmentally harmful gas in the production of single cell protein
• Nearly 140 billion cubic metres (or 5.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas are being flared and vented annually by the oil industry
• The gas flared annually is equivalent to 25% of the United States’ gas consumption, 30% of the European Union’s gas consumption, or 75% of Russia’s gas exports. The gas flared yearly also represents more than the combined gas consumption of Central and South America
• The annual 35 bcm (or 1.2 trillion cubic feet) of gas flared in Africa alone is equivalent to half of that continent’s power consumption
• Gas flaring has a global impact on climate change by adding about 400 million tonnes of CO₂ to annual emissions
• Fewer than 20 countries account for more than 70% of gas flaring and venting. And just four countries together flare about 70 billion cubic metres of associated gas.
Estimated Flared Volume from Satellite Data (in bcm)
Production of UniProtein from natural gas versus flaring of natural gas
Q: How much CO₂ is formed by flaring 200 million m3 of natural gas?
A: When methane (which is the principal component of natural gas – about 92%) is flared at whichever temperature, it follows the reaction CH4 + 2 O2 > CO₂ + 2 H2O. As can be seen, 1 mol of CO₂ per mol of CH4 is formed, or 1 m3 CO₂ per m3 CH4.
The answer is thus: 200 million m3 CO₂ are formed. Expressed in tonne CO₂ , the answer is:
At 25 oC there is in 1 m3 CO₂ 1000/24.2 = 41.3 mol CO₂ = 1.818 kg. In 200 million m3
CO₂ there is thus 363 106kg = 363,000 tonnes CO₂
Q: How much CO2 is emitted by using 200 million m3 of natural gas for fermentation and production of SCP?
A: Production of SCP based on methane follows the reaction:
CH4 + 1.454 O2 + 0.105 NH3 > 0.520 X (biomass) + 0.480 CO2 + 1.69 H2O
Only 48% of the CO₂ resulting from the above answer is thus released. This equals 96 million m3 or
174,200 tonnes of CO₂ . By using 200 million m3 of natural gas for fermentation and
production of SCP instead of flaring it, a 52% reduction in CO₂ emissions is thus achieved.
Professor, dr techn, tekn.dr h.c.mult
THE U-LOOP FERMENTER
The concept underlying UniBio’s U-Loop technology is simple: natural gas (methane) can be converted into a highly-concentrated protein product, which can be used in feed for animals (see diagram below). The product has been branded UniProtein® and can substitute an increasingly scarce resource – fishmeal. On top of that, when the U-Loop technology is employed in production plants, CO2 emissions are reduced by 52% as compared to when natural gas is burnt for producing electricity.
The U-Loop technology is patented under process patent no. PA199900690, which is registered in Europe and in a number of other countries. The patent is approved in the US, Mexico, Canada and Europe.
Technical Explanation of the Process
The continuous fermentation is operated with 2‑3% biomass (dry matter) and a dilution rate of 0.20‑0.25 h-1. The biomass of the harvest is concentrated to over 22% by centrifugation and then to approximately 30%. The concentrated biomass is quickly heated to 140°C in a UHT (Ultra High Temperature) unit in order to obtain a sterile product followed by a quick cooling to approx. 70°C. In the process the biomass is inactivated, and the cell undergoes lysis so that the protein becomes more accessible. Finally, the UHT‑treated biomass is dried in a spray dryer with an integrated fluid bed. This gives a non‑dusty agglomerated product.
In order to minimise the use of process water and to minimise the amount of waste water, process water from the centrifuges and ultra-filtration is returned to the fermentor after a short heat treatment.
The product is routinely examined for microbial contamination, water content and chemical composition. Tests have shown that the UHT treatment kills all the bacteria used in the production of UniProtein®. Spray drying is the last step in the production of UniProtein®. UniProtein® undergoes no other technical processes of preparation before use.
Natural gas is the main raw material used in UniProtein® production and it is used as the carbon and energy source. Technically pure oxygen is used for an oxygenation fermentation process, and ammonia is used as the nitrogen source. In addition to these substrates, the UniProtein® culture requires water, phosphate and several minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, nickel, cobalt and molybdenum. Sodium hydroxide and sulphuric acid are used for pH regulation. All chemicals are of food grade quality. Phosphate is supplied as phosphoric acid, the minerals as sulphates, chlorides or nitrates. The pH is regulated to 6.5±0.3, and the temperature is kept at 45°C±2°C.
In 2007, UniBio A/S received an order on a pilot factory (see below) in Trinidad & Tobago, a territory with major reserves of methane. The aim of the pilot plant project was to prove the U-Loop technology at industrial scale.
In 2009, the Site Acceptance Test at the pilot plant was concluded and in 2012 the pre-commissioning of the pilot plant in Trinidad & Tobago was started. In the beginning of 2013, UniBio A/S sent a team of consultants from Denmark and the first fermentation was successfully concluded.
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Jesper Halling Pedersen
Majbritt Duus Asmussen
Head of Office Administration
Gitte Joo Madsen