Stranded methane to food: techno-economic analysis of methanotrophic protein production

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Sahar Head El Abbadi, Evan D Sherwin , Adam R Brandt , Stephen P. Luby, Craig S. Criddle


Methane is emitted and flared from industrial sources across the United States, contributing to global climate change. This need not be the case. Methanotrophic (methane-oxidizing) bacteria can transform methane into useful protein-rich biomass (e.g., to replace fishmeal in animal feeds). Here, we analyze the economic potential of producing methanotrophic microbial protein from methane emitted and flared from wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and oil and gas facilities. Our results show that current technology can enable production equivalent to nearly 15% of the global fishmeal market at prices at or below the current cost of fishmeal of roughly $1,600 per metric ton. We find that methanotroph production is most sensitive to electricity costs, which can be reduced through lower prices or reducing electricity demand. Bioreactor cooling and biomass drying are the most energy intensive processes, and additional price savings can be achieved by reducing labor requirements.



Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering, Environmental Engineering


methane, single cell protein, methanotroph, fishmeal


Published: 2021-02-23 12:41

Last Updated: 2021-02-25 09:15

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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