Bacteria produce single cell protein, a vegan product that requires less land are than plant-based alternatives. Since Solar Foods recently teased that their Solein single cell protein may or may not come to consumers sooner rather than later (unfortunately without additional detail), I figured this would be a good time to compile a short list of the single cell protein products that are in development. An interesting trend is that four out of five are based on hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria and only one is based on methanotrophic bacteria. I hope to write about the difference between these in a future blog post. Until then in no particular order.
Positive Protein by Calysta
Calysta uses single-celled organisms called methanotrophs, which feed on methane, to produce protein for fish, livestock and pets. Their animal feed product is already in commercial use but “Positive Protein” is their first product intended for human consumption. I did not find any timeline when “Positive Protein” might become available to consumers. It is also worth noting that their methane source is currently fossil gas, therefore their current products are not renewable.
Air Protein caters directly to human consumption. It’s process seems to be based on hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria. So neither methanol nor methane production is required. Just hydrogen production and CO2 capture. I did not find any details though, I am just assuming from their description of “making protein from air”. I also didn’t find any information on product launch timelines.
Power to Protein
Doesn’t seem to have a specific product. Like air protein they are focusing on hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria.
Solein by Solar Foods
Solein by Solar Foods is a protein product from hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria. They were already granted novel food regulatory approval in Singapore by the Singapore Food Agency. However, Solein did not launch as a product yet. Solar Foods recently teased that we might finally be able to try Solein very soon but no dates were given.
Proton by Deep Branch (honorable mention, fish/poultry feed only)
Another hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria based protein product. Not intended for human consumption though.
Single Cell Protein Trends
I think the popularity of hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria has to do with the price decline of electrolyzers, which produce the hydrogen these bacteria require. Methanol has the advantage that is doubles and an energy and carbon source. However, it is not produced renewably yet[2,3]. If renewable methanol production declines in price, methylotrophic bacteria might make a comeback. Until then, I am excited to get my hands on the first hydrogen-oxidizer based single cell protein product for human consumption.
Featured image generated with Stable Diffusion.