An Indian biotech startup has developed a way to convert the carbon in methane into proteins, in a process similar to fermentation
Spotted: Biotech startup, String Bio, is developing the technology to turn methane from natural gas into monomers, the building blocks of a protein which can be used in various ways. Its first product is an organic protein supplement for fish and poultry.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, but it is also a source of carbon. String Bio uses specially-developed (and patented) bacteria, which converts the carbon in the gas into proteins, in a process similar to fermentation, such as when yeasts turn grain into alcohol. The proteins then undergo further processing to convert them into a usable feed. The process developed by String Bio takes place at nominal temperatures and pressures, and so can be used with many standard sources of methane.
Ultimately, String Bio would like to use atmospheric methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, as a source for their fermentation process. However, the company feels the availability of methane is still too low and fragmented for use on an industrial scale. Instead, the company plans to set up large production units close to gas fields in India and further afield.
String Bio recently became the first Indian startup to get backing from French VC Seventure Partners. According to Vinod Kumar, String Bio MD and co-founder, String’s product is “better than soymeal and equivalent to fishmeal.” The company has already done trials of the product and has gotten good results.
This is not the first innovative use of microbes that we have seen at Springwise, particularly in the area of plastic production. We have recently covered a Finnish company that is growing headphones from fungi and yeast and a US company creating biodegradable clothing from methane and microbes.