Agriculture / Agribusiness

Researchers Upcycle Agricultural Waste to Produce Fats for Alt Meat

Researchers from Connectomix Bio are investigating a method to transform agricultural waste into lipids for use in meat alternatives.

The method will involve turning discarded parts of crops, such as corn husks, into a gas. This gas will then be used to feed microbes, which will produce lipids via fermentation. The resulting fatty acids could be added to cultivated and plant-based meats, improving their taste and texture.

“We’re building on a technology that’s existed for millennia – brewing”

The researchers will tailor the lipids to particular applications, such as chicken, beef, or pork alternatives. They will also investigate different processes — for example, the biogas that is initially produced could be converted into another type of gas or a liquid to make the method more economical.

Connectomix Bio
© Connectomix Bio

Funded by GFI, the project will be run by a Luxembourg-based team collaborating with institutions in the US, UK, Italy, Israel, Denmark, and Canada. VNG, a group of companies in the European gas sector, will also be involved.

“Huge environmental advantages”

In recent years, there has been increasing awareness of the importance of fat in enabling meat alternatives to compete with the taste and texture of animal meat. A number of companies are now working in this area, including the UK’s Hoxton Farms, Australia’s Nourish Ingredients, and Sweden’s Melt&Marble.

GFI Europe said the new project would be valuable because it would put information about sustainable fat alternatives into the public domain. Connectomix Bio agreed, emphasising the environmental advantages.

Nourish Ingredients butter
©Nourish Ingredients

“We’re building on a technology that’s existed for millennia – brewing – but the big difference is instead of dedicating land to grow crops specifically for this process, we’re using renewable sources,” said managing director Dorian Leger.

“This can have huge environmental advantages. If you leave agricultural waste lying in the field it will create methane, which has a greater global warming potential than CO2. What we’re doing will capture this gas and turn it into an asset,” added scientific project manager Milena Ivanisevic.

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