Qatar is a small country, but it is very rich in natural gas: a resource that has made it one of the richest countries in the world. Nonetheless, Qatar has little agricultural land, and its climate is not conducive to agriculture.
The lack of agricultural land is a huge drawback: it means, in layman's terms, that Qatar lacks the ability to produce protein for its population.
To reduce Qatari's dependence on imports, the leading company in the sustainable protein sector Unibio is collaborating with the industrial biotechnology company Gulf Biotech to develop a truly futuristic plant, which will produce proteins locally from methane, the main constituent of natural gas.
Uniprotein, proteins derived from methane
Uniprotein does not use arable land and requires much less water than traditional farms, making it an ideal solution for Qatar.
It will use microbial fermentation to convert methane into high quality protein. The proteins will be used as a protein supplement in fish and animal feed.
Because it is important
With the world population continuing (at the moment) to grow, plants like Uniprotein will become increasingly important to face the challenges of sustainable food production. Animal feeding is still an important part of the food production process, and not just in Qatar: The main ingredients used in feed are corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats and barley. All crops that absorb a lot of land and water.
How does the plant in Qatar that produces proteins from methane work?
Uniprotein exploits a continuous flow bacterial fermentation process: the process allows a high conversion rate, which means that more of the methane is converted into proteins.
The second phase includes treatment and purification of the obtained proteins. The result? A kind of compound pellet 11% water and 70% protein, a dosage that is higher than some high-value proteins such as soy.
After the first laboratory tests, Gulf Biotech carried out the feasibility study of the plant in Qatar, which gave a positive result.
Uniprotein will be completed by early 2023.