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Green Chemistry

UK protein-from-CO₂ start-up raises $10 million

Funds will support pilot manufacturing and product testing in the Netherlands

by Alex Scott
March 18, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 10

A photo of a shipping-container-like structure.
Credit: Drax
Deep Branch tested its CO2-based protein process at a plant operated by the UK power generator Drax.

The fanciful concept of making food from the air is getting some financial support.

Deep Branch, a British start-up, has raised $10 million in series A funding to produce animal-feed protein from single-cell microbes fed waste carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The lead investors are the chemical maker DSM and the venture capital firm Novo Holdings. This is on top of $5 million that Deep Branch recently received from the UK government and the European Union.

Named Proton, Deep Branch’s protein comprises dried up microbes. The powder is 70% protein and contains all the amino acids required to feed fish or land animals, the firm says.

The latest funding round will enable Deep Branch to start pilot-scale production of its protein at Brightlands Chemelot Campus, an incubator in the Netherlands for young, circular-economy technology companies. Deep Branch will then provide Proton to the feed producers BioMar and AB Agri to evaluate its nutritional content. The new funding will also allow Deep Branch to begin engineering design work for its first commercial-scale facility.

Proton is cost competitive with standard animal feed while offering a 90% carbon footprint savings, Deep Branch says. The company claims lower raw material costs than emerging feed technologies that use methane or sugar.

Deep Branch is at a development phase similar to that of Solar Foods, a Finnish start-up making protein from a microbe fed with CO2 captured from the air. In December, Solar Foods raised $5 million to build a demonstration plant.



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