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Case Study

Calysta fish-feed collaboration hits four-tonne mark

By 2050 the world population is expected to rise from 7.5 billion today to 9.7 billion1 and will require 70 per cent more protein than is currently available. The farmed fish market currently relies on commodities for its protein source: fishmeal, a powdered product made from wild-caught fish, or agricultural soya, wheat, or corn-derived feedstocks. Without strict regulation, wild-catch fisheries could damage the world’s ocean ecosystem through unsustainable overfishing. Both industry and environmental leaders are encouraging the development of new, sustainable ways to meet demand for increased sources of protein, that do not compete with the human food chain.

Calysta, based in the USA, is an innovator in sustainable products to improve worldwide food security. Calysta partnered with CPI to develop the production process for FeedKind® protein, a new fish feed ingredient that will enable the aquaculture industry to reduce its reliance on fishmeal or soya protein. FeedKind protein is a natural, traceable and safe, non-GMO, non-animal source of protein, produced using naturally occurring microbes found in soils worldwide. Via a natural fermentation process, these microbes produce a nutritious, high-protein feed that is a sustainable alternative to feed ingredients such as fishmeal.

The objectives

In order to produce FeedKind protein, Calysta worked with CPI to complete the following objectives:

  • The development of Calysta’s Market Introduction Facility on Teesside to undertake research and development in support of commercialising FeedKind protein and to develop the technology for other novel applications.
  • The demonstration of a robust and reproducible commercially viable gas fermentation process.
  • Completion of the design and build programme with production of the first tonne of FeedKind sample within 18 months.

The Market Introduction Facility is supported by a conditional Exceptional Regional Growth Fund (ERGF) award.

The activities

Calysta engaged with the experienced research, development and scale-up team at CPI to deliver a business critical objective: developing the world’s first single-cell protein production facility using methane as a feedstock. This will enable Calysta to further commercialise its technology and meet the market demand for producing suitable quantities of FeedKind for feed trials.

Calysta chose Teesside as the base for its state-of-the-art facility to manufacture sample quantities of the FeedKind protein partly because of CPI’s expertise in running gas-based fermentations. CPI integrated Calysta’s novel loop reactor with the National Industrial Biotechnology Facilities (NIBF) to minimise both the capital required and time to complete the design and installation. CPI had not run this specific fermentation process prior to the start of this project. However, its technical transfer team was able to apply its knowledge and previous experience of transferring and scaling a vast number of processes, to successfully deliver both lab and demonstration-scale processes within weeks of start-up. Information supplied by Calysta’s team were translated into a process that could be ran effectively on the unit. It was through CPI’s know-how that the gap between laboratory batch and a scalable continuous demonstration process was successfully bridged. Combining CPI’s cutting-edge facilities and technical expertise to support Calysta in the process development minimised technical and project risk, delivering a successful outcome in the shortest possible time and lowest cost. CPI is dedicated to supporting Calysta throughout the full translation and development of the company’s proprietary technology and will continue to provide support at the first commercial facilities, in addition to providing high quality sample quantities of FeedKind for market testing.

The outputs

This scale of project would typically cost over £10 million and take over two years to design and deliver, however through partnering with CPI, Calysta made significant savings through leveraging the NIBF assets to provide the majority of utilities, services and process vessels required for non-proprietary process steps. The fact that Calysta could rely on CPI staff to start the project whilst it built its UK-based team, also greatly contributed to the speed at which the project was executed. CPI provided Calysta with a team of in-house scientists, process engineers, , and know-how on what works from design to reality, saving time and money on resources. This demonstration facility has already shown positive results, achieving two significant milestones within its first three months of operation. The project kicked off in October 2015, with the conceptual design complete by the end of January 2016. Following the build phase, water commissioning was carried out and then process commissioning commenced January 2017. As of May 12th 2017 the plant has successfully produced over four tonnes of dried material.

The outcome

FeedKind protein will offer valuable features to aquaculture feed producers that are not available in existing feed ingredients. These include high nutrient density, product uniformity, security of supply, sustainable and traceable product labelling, and potential health benefits to farmed fish. The production of FeedKind protein will also be independent of climatic variability and fishery regulations, eradicating the risk associated with sourcing fishmeal from locations with poor environmental or labour standards.

The long-term ambition for CPI and Calysta on Teesside is for this Market Introduction Facility to convert methane into valuable FeedKind protein that is used for fish feed trials around the world, to further Calysta’s commercial objectives and build on CPI’s expertise in gas fermentations. Other options will also be explored to look at different feedstocks, products and operational variations. Essentially, this facility will act as Calysta’s large-scale R&D apparatus for the next five to ten years. CPI will also be looking at developing a robust technology transfer package providing comprehensive plant data that will be the operational basis for the full-scale commercial process. This robust set of data will enable the production of other plants across the globe, whilst minimising financial risk.

In 2016, Calysta partnered with Cargill to develop FeedKind protein in North America and entered into a global joint marketing agreement. The development of this world-scale plant will be developed using CPI’s robust technology transfer package, and is expected to open in the United States in 2019. It will produce up to 20,000 metric tonnes per year of FeedKind protein initially, and expanding up to 200,000 metric tonnes per year when operating at full capacity.

Calysta has recently received $40 million in Series D funding, in a financing round led by Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan. Also participating were Temasek, a Singapore-based investment company and current investors Cargill, the Municipal Employee Retirement System (MERS) of MichiganWalden Riverwood VenturesAqua-Spark and Pangaea Ventures. This funding will be used to help advance commercial-scale manufacturing of Calysta’s FeedKind protein.

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  1. World Population Clock: 7.5 Billion People (2017) - Worldometers [Internet]. 2017. Available from: