Ag Innovation Showcase Presents: Kiverdi
Lisa Dyson’s micro-organisms are a sustainable source for valuable palm oilShow transcript
The Ag Innovation Showcase offers a platform to innovators across the agricultural value chain. Kiverdi is using micro-organisms to create a brand new source for oils and proteins. Lisa Dyson explains how important palm oil is to modern consumer products – and how embracing a microbial alternative could save the earth’s rainforests. Registration is now open for the Ag Innovation Showcase 2017: visit www.agshowcase.com.
Lisa Dyson: So, microbes are actually quite common to all of us. If anyone likes beer or wine, they like a product of microbes. Or if you like yoghurt, every spoon is a spoonful of microbes. So they’re used already today to manufacture food products. We’re taking it a step further, and we’re using a different class of microbes that had previously been under-studied, and they’re called hydrogenotrophs, or knallgas microbes. And they have a nice property of being able to take gases like carbon dioxide, and in the dark convert those gases into oils and proteins.
It’s kind of like growing a plant. So like a soy bean will have oil and it will have protein, our microbes are rich in oils or rich in proteins, and so we can take CO2 as a raw material, and make a product similar to a palm oil, in this case.
Oils are ubiquitous in our society, including plant-based oils. So palm oil as an example is used in over 50 percent of consumer products. Palm oil can be used to make ice cream, cookies, detergents, and soaps.
And about 85 percent of palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia: places where they’ve had to make room for those palm plantations by, in many cases, removing virgin rainforests.
And so the question one has to ask is, how do we continue to produce food and raw materials for everyday products in a way that uses less land, less water, and emits fewer greenhouse gases. As an example of how this technology can scale: you can deploy this technology in such a way that you can make, for instance, 10,000 times more protein versus soy, if you were to grow soy beans on that same land area over a period of a year. Because it doesn’t require sunlight, and you can actually scale vertically. So it significantly reduces land footprint.
And also uses significantly less water. So for a pound of protein, our process uses 2,000 times less water than protein produced from soy.