Photo: Shutterstock

New protein sources

Friday 15 Mar 19
Cases for DTU’s research and innovation in relation to proteins for animal feed and food products.

Photo: Mikal Schlosser
The plant-based cheese has a shelt life of a few days. Photo: Mikal Schlosser.

Students invent vegan cheese

Protein-rich water from chickpeas that is usually discarded can be used to produce a plant-based cheese.

The idea comes from four international students from the MSc Eng in Food Technology study programme.

The team experimented in DTU Skylab’s FoodLab to find the best combination of ingredients for the plant-based cheese, and ended up with a solution they call ‘Cheese it Yourself’.

Consumer’s can buy the cheese ingredients in a bag that they take home and mix with chickpea water. After boiling and cooling, the result is a solid, sliceable cheese.

The product won first prize at DTU’s Green Challenge student conference in 2018, and later won a silver plaque at the Ecotrophelia international food competition.

The students will work to get their product on the market in 2019. 

 Photo: Shutterstock

The black soldier fly larvae efficiently convert organic material, such as food industry waste and by-products into protein etc. Photo: Shutterstock.

Fly larvae become fish feed

DTU Aqua will investigate whether larvae can serve as a protein-rich alternative to soya beans and fishmeal in fish feed.

Enorm BioFactory operates one of Denmark’s largest insect productions at a former chicken farm near Horsens in Jutland. Black soldiers flies lay eggs, that hatch out as larvae. The larvae are dried and can be used as high-protein fish feed.

The insect farm is one of the partners involved a four-year project just launched in 2019, with funding from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

Aller Aqua, which produces fish feed, will trial replacing conventional sources of protein such as soya beans with larvae from Enorm BioFactory.

DTU Aqua will investigate the feed quality. These trials will look at fish growth and how well the fish utilize the feed, among other parameters.

Contact: Per Bovbjerg Pedersen, Head of Section, DTU Aqua,

 Photo: Lisbeth Holten
“We are extracting protein from grass that can be used as food for people,” says research assistant Daniel Stender Nørgaard from DTU Food. Photo: Lisbeth Holten.

Grass on the menu

Protein from grass has an amino acid composition similar to that usually found in animal products.

Proteins in grass can be extracted and used in foods. The Research Group for Microbial Biotechnology and Biorefining at DTU Food has demonstrated this in cooperation with AU Foulum. The amino acid composition in grass is similar to that found in protein sources such as soya, eggs, and whey. However, the environmental and climate impacts of producing grass protein are considerably less.

To extract the protein, the grass is first passed through a screw press that functions like a big juicer. This splits the grass into a fibre-rich dry matter that can be used for cattle feed, and a protein-rich fluid. Subsequent processing of this fluid separates out the proteins, which are then dried to form a powder.

The researchers are continuing their work in the new Innograss project, which is funded by the Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP). Under the project, DTU researchers are joining forces with Aalborg University, Seges, Lihme Protein Solutions, Naturli’ Foods and other partners to find applications for the proteins in foods such as plant-based mince.

Contact: Peter Ruhdal Jensen, Professor, DTU Food,, Daniel Stender Nørgaard, research assistant, DTU Food,

 Photo: Unibio
Protein granules are produced following the conversion of methane gas by bacteria in a bioreactor. Photo: Unibio.

Methane gas becomes proteins

Bacteria live off gas and can be harvested as protein granules.

Danish company Unibio has developed a technology, in close collaboration with DTU, whereby bacteria convert methane gas into protein. This is done in a fermenter (a bioreactor in which bacteria are cultivated), where special bacteria convert methane molecules.

The bacteria grow, and can later be converted into protein granules. The product can replace the use of soya and fishmeal in animal feed.

Longer term, it will also be possible to use the protein granules in normal foods. Protelux has purchased a license for the technology and has built a plant in Russia. The plant has the capacity to produce 6,000 tonnes of protein granules per year.

Contact: Krist V. Gernaey, Professor, DTU Chemical Engineering,

 Photo: Anita Lubjic
Researchers at DTU Food experimented with various types of microalgae in the laboratory. Photo: Anita Lubjic.

Microalgae packed with proteins

Researchers have optimized microalgae cultivation, so they contain 60 per cent proteins.

Microalgae are single-celled organisms, and part of the ocean phytoplankton. The algae can be grown for various purposes, including protein harvesting. A research group at DTU Food has demonstrated this.

The researchers conducted trials involving a variety of microalgae, where the best performing species produced a protein content of 60 per cent. The trials also focused on how to harvest, concentrate, and dry the algae.

The research group is continuing its microalgae trials to investigate whether they can also serve as alternative sources for other ingredients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, pigments, and vitamin D.

Contact: Professor Charlotte Jacobsen, DTU Food, chja@food.

Photo: Joachim Rode 
Preben Bøje Hansen founded DTU Brewery in 2013. He founded Dacofi in 2014, based on a filter technology developed at the brewery. Photo: Joachim Rode.

Waste products from beer brewing can be utilized

Proteins are one of the ingredients that can be extracted from the residue left from beer production, using new filter technology.

Brewing dregs are a residue from brewing from which proteins can be extracted. This is possible using a compact filter that was developed at DTU Ecotrophelia and is now being fine-tuned in the Dacofi spin-out company.

The idea of utilizing brewing dregs in food production is not new, but it has not previously been economically feasible to dry the material.

Using filter technology from DTU, involving simultaneous filtration and pressing, it is possible to gently and inexpensively separate the brewing dregs into liquid and dry matter components. The sediment in the liquid, which contains proteins, sugars and antioxidants, can be separated in a centrifuge, and then used to enrich dairy products, protein drinks, etc.

Contact: Preben Bøje Hansen, Food Technologist, DTU Food,