Securing food supplies for the ever-growing world population while protecting the environment are often conflicting objectives. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now developed a method to synthetically manufacture nutritive proteins using a form of artificial photosynthesis. The animal feed industry is a major driver of the high demand for large amounts of nutritive proteins that are also suitable for use in meat replacement products.
A group led by Professor Volker Sieber at the TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability (TUMCS) has succeeded in producing the amino acid L-alanine, an essential building block of proteins, from the environmentally hazardous gas CO.2Their indirect biotechnological processes involve methanol as an intermediate. Until now, proteins for animal feed were generally produced in the Southern Hemisphere, requiring large agricultural spaces and negatively impacting biodiversity.
CO2Removed from the atmosphere, it is first converted to methanol using green power and hydrogen. The new method converts this intermediate to her L-alanine in a multistep process using synthase. This method is very effective and gives very high yields. L-Alanine is one of the most important components of protein and is essential in both human and animal nutrition.
Professor Sieber, Professor of Bioresource Chemistry at TUM, explains: A more efficient use of space means that we can produce the same amount of food on significantly fewer acres using a form of artificial photosynthesis. This paves the way for a smaller ecological footprint in agriculture. ”
Combining the bioeconomy and the hydrogen economy
Manufacturing L-alanine is just the first step for scientists. “I want to produce other amino acids from CO”2 We can use renewable energy and make the realization process even more efficient,” says co-author Vivian Willers, who developed the process as a PhD candidate at TUM Campus Straubing. Combining economies can achieve more sustainability.