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Chinese Scientists Make Major Breakthrough: “Coal into Protein” Solution for Animal Feed Demand

China is experiencing a shortage of food for animals. Recently, a solution was found after scientists “turned coal into protein” which was both cheap and efficient.

With the world’s population increasing As a result, the demand for food itself continues to increase. especially animal products When that happens, the farming of livestock or raising various animals also increases. As a result, the demand for protein for use in animal feed has increased. China in particular is facing a severe shortage of protein resources.

Each year, China relies on imports of soybeans from overseas to supply large amounts of animal feed. It imports approximately 100 million tons per year and has an import dependency ratio of over 80%.

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For this reason, it is very important to develop methods for producing high quality protein that are fast and efficient. And the most likely solution is biotechnological synthesis.

There are several methods of protein biosynthesis. The simplest is to convert food and agricultural industry by-products such as corn soaking liquid (CSL), grain fermentation. and straw fermentation to become protein

However, these by-products often already have a use: seeds may need to be processed and then propagated. Or the straw itself is food for some livestock.

Therefore, China is trying to find raw materials that can be processed into protein. It must be highly efficient and inexpensive. One of them is “coal”.

Researchers in China have developed a novel way to make protein by distilling methanol from coal. Then it is fermented for the body to turn into protein. Which is not only cheap but also highly effective.

This is the work of scientists from the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology. of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), led by Professor Wu Xin

Prof Wu said: “Coal, which has global reserves of about 1.07 trillion tonnes, can be converted into methanol by coal gasification. Methanol mixes well with water. This makes it highly efficient in the fermentation process compared to gaseous precursors. and reduces the need for special fermentation equipment.”

However, the research team originally used the yeast strain Pichia Pastoris in the fermentation process. But because methanol is toxic and has a complex pathway, about 20% is often wasted. This is because this yeast converts methanol into carbon dioxide and water instead of using it for protein synthesis. This reduces the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the process.

To solve this problem The research team therefore collected more than 20,000 yeast samples from vineyards, forests and marshes across China. From those examples They identified strains that can efficiently convert various sugars and alcohols into carbon sources.

They then engineered yeast with methanol tolerance and significantly increased metabolic efficiency. This makes it possible to convert more methanol into protein.

“The researchers obtained a dry cell weight of 120 grams/liter and a crude protein content of 67.2% by using modified yeast. and the efficiency of converting methanol into protein is as high as 92%,” the research report states. This high conversion rate makes this method of protein production very economically attractive.

Prof. Wu said “It is not necessary to have arable land. Not affected by seasons and weather conditions. And it is a thousand times more effective than traditional methods… Moreover, the protein content is between 40-85%, which is significantly higher than that in natural plants.”

In addition, the resulting product contains a complete set of amino acids, vitamins, inorganic salts, fats and carbohydrates. This makes it possible to partially replace fish meal, soybeans, meat and skim milk powder.

The research team has begun industrial production. Thousands of tonnes of protein can already be produced in one factory.

Compiled from SCMP

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2024-01-08 04:48:00

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