Chinese researchers said they have developed the technology to turn industrial emissions into animal feed at scale, a move that could cut the country’s dependence on imported raw materials such as soybeans.
This technology uses Clostridium autoethanogenum to synthesize industrial exhaust that contains carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into protein using nitrogen. Clostridium autoethanogenum is a bacterium which can be used for making ethanol. According to the Science and Technology Daily, this news broke on Wednesday.
China is the top importer of soybeans, which are crushed to produce meal, mainly to feed its pig herd that’s the largest globally. The country buys large quantities from Brazil, Argentina, and the U.S. This commodity is also a significant source of friction, contributing to U.S. – China trade tensions.
China has a shortage of agricultural commodities. This is due to the lack of productive farmland, rising demand from an affluent populace and low yields. The Science and Technology Daily said that 80% of China’s raw material needs for feed proteins are served by imports.
Researchers noted that China’s ability to produce 10 million tonnes of synthetic protein with the new technology would make it equivalent to approximately 28 million soybean imports. They noted that China’s decarbonization efforts would be helped by large-scale production of synthetic protein for animal feed. This is a key policy objective for the Communist Party.
—Luz Ding provides assistance