Two companies using methane to manufacture protein for animal feed and food ingredients have closed funding on the same day, attracting investment from leading gas companies in Europe and Asia.
Finding alternative uses for methane could be an important tool in the fight against climate change as the gas is responsible for at least a quarter of global warming and is over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a warming gas over a twenty-year timeframe, according to the United Nations.
Calysta, a Californian animal feed company, has raised $30 million in funding from BP Ventures, the venture arm of the British oil and gas company. According to a press release, BP will provide Calysta with methane supplies to feed the microbes that power its gas fermentation process to produce a single-cell protein — dubbed FeedKind — which can be used as animal feed for aquaculture, livestock, and pets. FeedKind is already being produced in England.
Meanwhile in India, String Bio, which claims to be the first Indian company to “successfully enable the development of a methane-based value chain through a biological process” raised an undisclosed funding round with India’s largest crude oil and natural gas company Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), French venture firm Seventure Partners, Indian VC Ankur Capital, Karnataka’s Information and Biotechnology Venture Fund (KITVEN) and Srinivasa Hatcheries, a pioneer in the Indian Poultry Industry.
String Bio also uses methane as a feedstock to manufacture alternative proteins starting with the animal feed industry with its first product String Pro. It plans to branch into human nutrition as well as the agriculture and cosmetics industries. String Bio says it uses methane produced from waste as well as natural sources.
When asked why Calysta was getting the gas from BP as opposed to from waste sources such as agriculture where it’s a critical part of the industry’s greenhouse gas footprint, a spokesperson said that there is currently no way of producing biogas in the quantities required for a world-scale plant. However, it is something that Calysta would be keen to explore in future if viable technology became available.
Meghan Sharp, managing director of BP Ventures said in a release: “We are really excited to be working with the team at Calysta, bringing them into the BP Ventures family as we seek new commercial opportunities for our gas business. Their technology complements our core business while providing opportunities for sustainable products for tomorrow.”
String Bio was not available to discuss its claims around using methane waste when AFN went to press.
“The disruptive approach that String Bio has developed to supply qualitative feed ingredients while giving value to one of the most powerful greenhouse gases is of high-value to address the global urgent need for alternative sources of protein”, said Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO and managing partner at Seventure Partners in a press release. “We are proud to support String Bio’s team in such an impactful technological and business development”.
Calysta has now raised over $600 million for the business, according to one of its early investors Mike Velings of Aqua-Spark. And its investor base is a list of heavyweight players from across the globe, most recently Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co and Singapore state investment fund Temasek. Global agribusiness Cargill, which has a large animal agriculture business, has also invested in the past alongside the pension fund Municipal Employee Retirement System (MERS) of Michigan, multi-family office Bessemer Trust, Walden Riverwood Ventures, and Pangaea Ventures.