June 23, 2017

Waste, to Biogas, to Animal Feed


Alex Beliaev 

Alex Beliaev will have a role in an Australian rural research and development program getting underway this fall that will convert animal wastes into valuable products, including fertilizers, energy, and - the specific contribution of his team - single-celled proteins that nutritionally enhance animal feed.

Broadly, the new program in several livestock regions of Australia mix of public and private funding to develop technologies and business models designed to capture a waste-to-wealth market opportunity that could be worth $100 million a year by 2025.

Currently, annual waste treatment costs for the Australian red-meat industry are about $200 million.

"We want to integrate our bioreactor system. One of the biggest challenges in agriculture is cheap protein - large quantities at a low price."

-Alex Beliaev 

For Beliaev, the project creates an opportunity to put into large-scale practice a microbial co-culture technology developed by his team at PNNL that converts methane and carbon dioxide from natural gas or biogas into microbial biomass, as outlined in a recent paper.

Hardware development will start in the September-October timeframe. Anaerobic digesters that already create biogas from animal waste will be coupled with the PNNL co-cultivation, bioreactor-based platform. (A patent was completed last year.) "We want to integrate our bioreactor system," said Beliaev, in order to produce proteins, vitamins, micronutrients, and enzymes beneficial to livestock. "One of the biggest challenges in agriculture is cheap protein - large quantities at a low price."

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://www.energy.gov/science/. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: June 23, 2017