Chinese scientists have developed a method to create animal feed from carbon monoxide. The breakthrough could ease China’s reliance on vast amounts of imported soya beans to feed its enormous livestock population.
The Feed Research Institute of China’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) said it developed a method to hasten a gas fermentation process that creates a single-cell protein that can sustain livestock. CAAS received assistance from Beijing Shoulang Biological Technology, according to Reuters.
The researchers have opened an operating facility in China’s Northeast Hebei province, according to Chinese state media.
The Hebei operation will convert tail-gas from steel foundries into roughly 5 000 tons of animal protein per year. While no details about the cost of production were disclosed, the report did say that the feed had already been approved by China’s agriculture ministry.
If China can effectively extract animal feed from the toxic carbon monoxide by-product it can lessen its dependence on importing animal feed, particularly soya, according to state-backed Global Times. Every year the Asian behemoth imports roughly 100 million tons of the product to feed its livestock.
China is amongst a slew of nations using synthetic biology to find alternative feed sources using waste. The UK-based biotech firm, Deep Branch, is aiming to turn greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide emitted from power plants, into fish and poultry feed.
In 2018, Calysta, Californian-based biotech firm, teamed up with agricultural giant, Cargill, to establish a 200 000-ton-per-year plant in Tennessee. The massive plant will reportedly convert natural gases like methane into feed targeted at the fish, pet food and livestock industries.
Earlier this year, the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced it had synthesized food-grade starch from carbon dioxide, a world-first.
Exploring options that remove some of the reliance on soya bean imports will also positively impact the planet. Soya bean farming and cattle ranching are two of the leading causes of deforestation on the planet. According to the Guardian, the practice is the second largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions, after energy production.
China, along with more than 100 other nations, recently announced it would end its deforestation practices by 2030. The news came on the second day of this year’s COP26 Summit in Scotland, where world leaders pledged around $19 billion in funds for the cause.