‘Transformational’ Nottingham carbon recycling project lands £3m boost

A Nottingham-based carbon recycling project which could transform the was food is produced in the UK, has launched after landing £3m in Government cash.

REACT-FIRST is the UK’s first-ever scalable route to the sustainable generation of protein capturing the carbon dioxide from bio-energy generation. It launches with financial support from the government in the form of £3m funding from Innovate UK and says it will contribute to meeting the UK’s Net Zero climate change commitment.

The initiative is led by carbon recycling biotechnology company Deep Branch, which has pioneered a process that uses microbes to convert carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and turns them into high-value proteins.

The project launches with a consortium of ten industry and academic partners:

· Deep Branch – experts in recycling industrial CO2 into cost-competitive protein for high-value, sustainable animal feed;

· Drax – the UK’s largest single site renewable electricity generator and pioneer of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS);

· BioMar – one of the world’s largest aquafeed producers;

· AB Agri – a global agri-food business and leading producer of monogastric feed;

· Sainsbury’s – recognised as world’s best sustainable seafood retailer in 2017;

· Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) – a network of 100+ key stakeholders from the aquaculture industry;

· Synthetic Biology Research Centre, University of Nottingham (SBRC Nottingham) – the world-leading gas fermentation research group;

· The Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling – the UK’s leading aquaculture research centre;

· Nottingham Trent University, School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences – experts in assessing sustainable poultry production;

· Innogen, University of Edinburgh – experts in value chain integration and responsible innovation.

Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch, said: “Currently, most animal feed protein sources are imported from overseas, making the UK dependent on complicated and fragile supply chains. REACT-FIRST has been created to focus solely on addressing this problem.

“Projects like REACT-FIRST are key to help the industry move towards achieving net-zero emissions. Its solution uses the technology developed by Deep Branch, but whilst this has huge transformative potential, commercialisation is not possible without cooperation with key stakeholders across the value chain. REACT-FIRST addresses this, with its consortium of industrial and academic organisations, and even though relationships within these verticals are well established, the project represents the first time that the resources and expertise of all parties have been unified towards a single goal.”

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “To protect our environment and meet our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we must harness the very best of UK innovation across all sectors, supporting the most creative and pioneering ideas.

“From robotics assisting our farmers in fruit picking, to technology that converts CO2-to clean animal feed, the incredible and cutting-edge projects we are backing today represent the future of farming. Working with the best of British science, we are accelerating the transition to net zero food production, boosting jobs and productivity and driving forward the UK’s economic recovery.”