ICI 'Pruteen' plant for manufacturing single cell protein, c 1980.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engineering model. Pruteen is the trade name given by ICI to a microbial protein produced by bacteria grown on methanol produced from methane or natural gas. The Pruteen project was a pioneering attempt by ICI to produce food using microorganisms, which was seen as a solution to future food crises arising from the rapid growth of the world's population. The company invested well in exces of £100 million in the initiative, but high production costs and falling prices of competing products meant that the project was abandoned. Although nutritionally excellent, Pruteen was just too expensive to produce.