- Published on August 31
Engineers hold the power to create a remarkable impact in the alternative protein industry. By tackling key bottlenecks, they can revolutionize the way we produce plant-based proteins and cultured meat.
Through innovative designs of protein extraction equipment and bioreactors, engineers can increase efficiency and scale up production. They can repurpose existing facilities, ensuring cost-effective growth. Engineers also play a vital role in maintaining sterile conditions and pioneering foundational research for cultured meat.
The key areas where engineering skills are needed in the alternative protein industry are:
R&D for cultured and dairy: Conduct research to advance the production of cultured meat, including developing cell scaffolding, tissue structuring, optimizing cell growth factors, and identifying valuable cell metabolism by-products. Engineers with expertise in biomedical engineering or tissue engineering would be particularly suited for these research roles.
Bioreactors in the fermentation and cultured meat industries: Design and develop efficient bioreactors specifically tailored for cultured meat and fermentation-based products. Adapt existing designs used in the pharmaceutical and food production industries to meet the unique requirements of alternative proteins. Chemical, mechanical, and process engineers, especially those with experience in bioprocess engineering, would be valuable in this area.
Protein extraction equipment: Research and develop new methods for efficiently extracting protein from plant inputs, such as shear cell extraction and electrospinning. Reducing the cost and energy consumption of protein extraction processes will contribute to the affordability and scalability of alternative protein production. Mechanical and process engineers would be well-suited for this work.
Equipment design & maintenance: Focus on maintaining sterility in the production of cultivated meat, where contamination can have severe consequences for cell cultures. This includes designing cleanrooms, HVAC systems, and implementing sterilization equipment and processes. Biomedical, chemical, and mechanical engineers with experience in cleanroom or lab design would be valuable in this area.
Repurposing production facilities: Identify and repurpose underutilized facilities, such as decommissioned ethanol or animal protein processing plants, to reduce the cost and time involved in scaling up alternative protein production. Engineers with industrial experience and knowledge of production capacity could play a crucial role in identifying suitable facilities for repurposing. Bioprocess, automation, chemical, and biomedical engineers with expertise in food or pharmaceutical production and supply chains would be well-suited for this work.
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