Calysta: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide update

May 13, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoCalysta is using biotechnology to create innovative products from sustainable sources. Calysta Nutrition develops and produces FeedKind ™ protein feed for commercial aquaculture and livestock feed. Calysta Energy is developing high value materials for use in industrial and consumer products with cost and performance advantages over current processes. Calysta proprietary technology uses methane as an energy source – one of the world’s most abundant, economical forms of carbon.

Technology developer/licensor and manufacturer.

The Situation:

Calysta has operations in the United States, United Kingdom, Norway and Singapore and is headquartered in Menlo Park, CA. The company has two business units.   Calysta Nutrition develops and produces FeedKind ™ protein feed, a high quality cost-competitive alternative for commercial aquaculture and livestock feed. FeedKind addresses the rapidly growing worldwide demand for high quality protein, particularly from the expanding middle classes in emerging nations. The aquaculture industry is essential to meeting this dramatic increase, but industry growth is hampered by a limited supply of sustainable, cost effective feed ingredients. Calysta is continuing the development of methane-based protein as a direct, sustainable replacement for current commercial sources of protein in animal feeds, especially fishmeal.


Calysta Energy, is developing the Biological Gas-to-Liquids® and Biological Gas-to-Chemicals® technologies using methane. These technologies allow conversion of a plentiful and sustainable energy resource into high value chemicals and industrial products with cost and performance advantages over current processes, and without competing for food, land or water.

Calysta was formed in 2011 as a spinout of DNA2.0, the largest US-based provider of synthetic genes for industrial and academic use. The company acquired technology focused on the aquaculture and livestock industries in 2014.

Former Codexis CEO Alan Shaw is leading Calysta as President and CEO, and co-founder Josh Silverman is CTO – Silverman established and led R&D partnerships and product development collaborations for five biotechnology companies, including Avidia through acquisition by Amgen.

Past Milestones: 

In April 2015, Calysta launched FeedKind™ Protein, a proven, cost-competitive new fish feed ingredient that can contribute to reducing the aquaculture industry’s reliance on unsustainable fish stocks sourced from the world’s oceans. FeedKind can replace fishmeal and soy protein with a nutritious, naturally-occurring protein that minimizes environmental impact and contributes to food security. FeedKind is produced with minimal land and water use, is non-GMO and approved in the EU for all fish and livestock species. It is expected to be introduced to the Scottish and Norwegian aquaculture sectors in 2018.

In January 2015, Calysta completed a Series B financing totaling $10 million. The financing was led by Walden Riverwood Ventures ( and (, a venture firm focused on investing in core technology companies globally, and Aqua-Spark (, a Netherlands-based firm focused on sustainable aquaculture investments. Nicholas Brathwaite, Walden Riverwood Ventures and Mike Velings, Aqua-Spark, will join the Calysta Board of Directors.

The financing included an additional investment by Pangaea Ventures Ltd. (, which invested in Calysta’s Series A round, and current Calysta officers and directors.  Calysta is using the Series B investment to advance development of high value nutritional products for fish and livestock as well as traditional chemical products.

In October 2014, the US Dept of Energy awarded a grant of up to $2.5 million to Calysta’s partner NatureWorks in support of an ongoing program to sequester and use methane as a feedstock for NatureWork’s Ingeo™ biopolymers and intermediates. NatureWorks is one of the world’s leading suppliers of bioplastics.

In July 2014, Calysta announced the company has achieved 8-fold improved performance over traditional fermentation technologies in a high mass transfer bioreactor. The bioreactor technology, from the acquisition of Bioprotein earlier this year, is under development for efficient methane-to-liquids fermentation processes, enabling rapid, cost-effective methane conversion into protein, industrial chemicals and fuels.

In June 2014, Calysta announced it has successfully fermented methane into lactic acid, under a research collaboration with NatureWorks. Lactic acid is the building block for NatureWorks Ingeo™ lactide intermediates and polymers used in consumer and industrial products worldwide.

In May 2014, Calysta acquired Bioprotein SA, Norway. This technology uses gas-fed fermentation to produce feed-quality protein with high nutritional value. BioProteinTM feed is approved in the European Union for use in the human food chain in salmon, as well as in multiple livestock animals including pigs, chickens, and cattle. The product and manufacturing technology are already validated at scale and can be rapidly deployed for commercial production.

In January 2014, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced a collaboration with Calysta on a new technology to convert natural gas to liquid fuel. The process involves taking natural gas from oil and gas operations, and converting it to methanol that can be used as a fuel or converted to other useful chemicals. Often small amounts of natural gas produced at oil and gas operations are flared off or vented into the environment when the amount does not justify a pipeline to transport the gas.

In December 2013, Calysta announced completion of a Series A financing round totaling $3 million. The financing was led by Pangaea Ventures Ltd., and included current Calysta officers and directors. Purnesh Seegopaul, Ph.D., General Partner at Pangaea, will join the Calysta Board of Directors.Calysta intends to use the Series A investment to advance development of biological routes to high value industrial chemicals and fuels based on methane, an advantaged feedstock from natural gas.

In June 2013, Calysta Energy and NatureWorks entered into an exclusive, multi-year collaboration to research and develop a practical, world-scale production process for fermenting methane — a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) — into lactic acid, the building block for Ingeo, lactide intermediates and polymers made from renewable materials. Feedstock diversification was at the heart of the announcement. If the collaboration results in the successful commercialization of this first-of-its-kind technology, the cost to produce Ingeo would be structurally lowered, and the wide range of Ingeo based consumer and industrial products could be produced from an even broader set of carbon-based feedstocks, complementary to what is already in use by NatureWorks.

In January 2013, Calysta Energy was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant supports development of a production platform for a new class of modified lipids (fats) with applications in a range of industrial products including plastics, detergents, and cosmetics. In particular, the research will focus on development of precursors for biobased biodegradable plastics which can serve as drop-in replacements for current petroleum-derived plastics. The size of the grant was not announced.

Future Milestones:

Manufacturing plant construction and commercial launch of FeedKind protein fishmeal alternative, estimated for 2018

Commercial scale technology deployments with its licensors



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