SLU – Pathfinder

Proteins from green biomass

The research group on Microbial Biotechnology and Biorefining at DTU Food, has developed a project to create protein-rich alternatives to meat and dairy produce. Meat and dairy production can have a negative environmental impact. Unsustainable farming methods pollute water and land, erode soil and emit greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

The idea relies on a new industrial process to extract protein from refined green biomass like Ryegrass and Lucerne. The agricultural sector has already investigated how it could use green biomass for animal feed and this project takes biorefining to a new level.

The first phase of the project received 50,000 euros EIT funding for a Climate-KIC Pathfinder programme. It ran between May and November 2018 and investigated an optimal protein extraction process and the environmental and economic impact of green biorefining.

The concept has received great interest from the food industry and the team also hopes that publishing results and patenting certain processes will bring new start-ups to life and attract capital investment for new market growth.


Traditional agricultural innovation is too slow, and unlikely to deliver the increased yield needed to feed the increasing global population. Its natural limitations and an ever-decreasing supply of arable land create the need to boost Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).

With this new protein extracting method, this Pathfinder project paves the way for an alternative way of producing protein. Green protein would not rely on animals anymore and therefore decrease the energy and water use as well as the methane emissions from this highly polluting sector.