The possibility of using biomass of methane-oxidizing microorganisms as a protein component in live-stock animals feed and in human food was understood as a promising research trend in the early 1960’s, almost simultaneously with research for protein substances production technology from unconventional raw materials - petroleum hydrocarbons and alcohols.
In the Soviet Union, the works on creating an industrial technology for protein substances production from natural gas commenced in 1964 at “All-Union research institute “VNII Sintezbelok” almost simultaneously with the institute being established. Its main target was to develop the scientific foundations of feed protein production technology from various types of raw materials, in particular from oil n-paraffins, natural gas, diesel fuel, synthetic alcohols, etc., and the development of an industrial technology for protein substances production from the above mentioned types of raw materials.
In 1969, an Intergovernmental Agreement was signed between the USSR and the GDR governing the technologies development for microbial protein production from hydrocarbons. Under the agreement, a program for a period of 20 years was developed. Its ultimate goal was to build an industrial plant for microbiological dewaxing of diesel fuel to produce feed protein in Schwedt (the GDR) and to create in the USSR feed protein production from natural gas with initial capacity of 10,000 tons per annum.
Since the mid-60s of the 20th century, research for using natural gas as a raw material for microbial protein production had been initiated. A methane-oxidizing culture was selected and studies were carried out on experimental facilities in experimental-industrial conditions.
At the end of the 70s of the last century, the organization of industrial production began at the Svetloyarsk plant of protein-vitamin concentrates (BVK).
In 1983 the pilot-plant equipment for biomass production from natural gas with initial capacity of 10,000 tpa was brought into production. In the next 2 years the plant commenced commercial operations. That manufacturing complex had been producing about 1000 tons of biomass from natural gas per month during 1988-1994. Later, the plant was designed to be equipped with the second similar module, and the combined estimated production capacity should have been reached 30 thousand tons of feed protein per annum. In total, up to 1994, about 40 thousand tons of biomass from natural gas had been produced and sold (both for Russian farms and for export deliveries to Bulgaria, Israel, Turkey, and Malaysia).
In 1991 - 1992, because of crisis phenomena in the economy of the Russian Federation, the further construction was frozen and production was suspended in May 1994
Company Statoil (Norway) carried out similar works on technology development for feed protein production from natural gas. In 1990, Statoil considered the possibility of procuring that production technology from the Soviet side. However, it later acquired the company Dansk Bioprotein (Odense, Denmark).