Cellular Agriculture

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Senior Design Reports (CBE)
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Biochemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Chemical Engineering
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Kim, Christina
Kishun, Amanda
Lubna, Fahmida

Cellular agriculture is a field of biotechnology focused on the production of animal products using cells grown in vitro . Traditional meat production consumes vast amounts of water, arable land, and feed crops, as well as driving deforestation, emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases, and creating large potential reservoirs for zoonotic diseases. As the global demand for meat increases, continuing to scale up the industry for slaughtered meat could have disastrous consequences for the environment. Growing cells in bioreactors creates the potential to drastically decrease land requirements, feed requirements, and other environmental impacts. For example, hindgut fermentation of feed, the main source of methane emissions from cattle farming, can be eliminated entirely by supplying the cells with pure glucose. This report proposes a process to produce 35 million pounds per year of a cultured ground beef product. The process starts with a starter colony of bovine muscle satellite cells, which are proliferated, differentiated to bovine muscle fiber, and then dewetted, mixed with plant-based fat, and extruded to the final product. Bubble column bioreactors are used for the seed train, final proliferation, and differentiation steps in order to adequately oxygenate large process volumes without threatening cell viability. The process shows profitability at a price of $100 per pound of product. The plant has a return on investment of 217%, an investor’s rate of return of 223%, and a cumulative net present value of about $2 billion over the plant’s lifespan.

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