May 17, 2022
NovoNutrients logo

California-based startup, NovoNutrients, claims it has been successful in the production of protein from carbon dioxide, with quality across certain parameters “virtually identical to beef”.

The enticing prospect of “beef-quality protein without the cow” is something of a holy grail in food production as it deals with several climate and food production concerns at once:

  • animal welfare
  • reducing carbon dioxide emissions from farmed animals
  • water conservation
  • using up carbon dioxide in the production process.

Based on independent test data from Medallion Labs, NovoNutrients’ protein ingredient outperformed published scores for conventional plant protein ingredients, like soy and pea protein concentrates, and isolates used in meat substitute foods. It also outscored new ingredients, like nutritional fungi proteins.

NovoNutrients chart
NovoNutrients’ CO2-derived protein ingredient delivers a protein quality score (PDCAAS, ages 3+) of 1.14, identical to beef, and better than all plant protein ingredients.

NovoNutrients scores high in digestibility tests

In Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Scoring (PDCAAS) for ages three and up, NovoNutrients protein achieved 1.14 – equal to that for beef – while plant-derived proteins all scored below 0.75 apart from soya products (0.93/0.98). PDCAAS is a measure developed by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to quantify how much of the amino acids in a food will be absorbed by the body in the digestive tract.

In a statement, NovoNutrients said its technology “has the potential to produce hundreds of millions of tons of high-quality protein in the coming years” while consuming a similar amount of carbon dioxide. At the same time it only needs a small fraction of the water and land needed for conventional protein production to make a neutrally flavoured and hypoallergenic product with a long shelf life.

NovoNutrients takes abundant and inexpensive CO2-containing industrial emissions and hydrogen as its key inputs. From them, it makes a range of protein ingredients and products used for aqua-feed, and for people – including high-value nutraceuticals such as carotenoids.

CO2 from oilfields and industry

The company’s recent collaborations have included a US oilfield company and a Japanese industrial firm with ‘clean’ transformations into protein shown to be possible. NovoNutrients is now working with partners, worldwide, to advance carbon capture utilisation and to produce larger protein samples.

“Delivering beef-quality protein without the cow – while consuming CO2 – is a leap forward for the exploding, global middle class and for the planet,” said David Tze, CEO of NovoNutrients. “We invite partners to join us, as we ascend to commercialisation.”

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