The 'Power-to-Protein' website

Closing the artificial nitrogen cycle by direct N upcycling as microbial protein


This website is co-financed with TKI-funding from the Topconsortia for Knowledge & Innovation (TKI’s) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Growing world population

In 2050 we will have to feed a world population of 9 billion

Effect crop production

Climate change will effect crop production worldwide

Rise of total consumption

Total consumption of energy and resources worldwide will rise and we will have to deal with both in a more efficient way

Increase renewable energy

As the percentage renewable energy will increase, hydrogen is a good candidate as a future energy carrier

Facts about ammonia


In Dutch sewage water treatment plants tens of thousands of tons of ammonia-nitrogen are destructed to nitrogen gas every year at the cost of 9 to 40 MJ/kg NH4-N (Annamox and conventional nitrification/denitrification respectively).


At the same time in fertilizer plants an even bigger amount of nitrogen gas is converted to ammonia in the Haber-Bosch process also at the cost of 45 MJ/kg NH4-N.


Power-to-Protein is about closing this artificial nitrogen cycle by direct N upcycling as microbial protein.

The basis is a highly efficient microbial resynthesis process with a mixed culture of bacteria that use hydrogen as an energy source.

Idea holder and emeritus professor at Ghent University (LabMET), prof. dr. ir. Willy Verstraete states:

The technology for recovery of reactive nitrogen as microbial protein is available but a change of mindset needs to be achieved to make such recovery acceptable.

Together with its research partners KWR Watercycle research Institute investigates the technological, economic and environmental feasibility of the Power-to-Protein concept.

The Power to Protein concept on the cover of the Environmental Science & Technology, May 2015

News and Updates

March 29 2017: Official opening of the Power-to-Protein Pilot

Invited guests from the waste water sector and food sector together with project partners and suppliers will join the official opening of the Power-to-Protein pilot at the SWTP in Enschede. Host is Mr. Jan van Hoek, member of the Executive Committee of Waterboard Vechtstromen and portfolio holder of Water Quality and Innovation. The quests will be informed about…

January 2017: start of unique Power-to-Protein pilot at SWTP Enschede

The research with the special designed and built power-to-protein reactor started last week at the sewage water treatment plant (SWTP)  Enschede of Waterboard Vechtstromen. The reactor will be operated on this location for 4 months and then be shipped to the SWTP Horstermeer of Waternet. The research will focus on the demonstration of the concept and the analysis…

November 2016: Promotion Silvio Matassa in Ghent

On Friday November 25, Silvio Matassa succesfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Ghent Universtity. The title of his doctoral dissertation was “Exploring protein production by hydrogen-oxidizing microbiomes“. After being awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD fellowship, Silvio started his PhD research at Avecom NV in Ghent in january 2014. A close scientific collaboration with the Center of…

October 2016: construction of Power-to-Protein reactor almost completed

The photo shows the Power-to-Protein pilot under construction for phase 2 of the research earlier this month. More precisely it shows the lower part of the Power-to-Protein reactor that forms the heart of the pilot plant. The pilot was built by Maris Machinery in Schijndel (NL) under supervision of Avecom. In the following weeks watertests will be performed to…

October 2016: Power-to-Protein concept presented at IWA World Water Congres in Brisbane

During the IWA World Water Congress from 9 – 13 October in Brisbane, KWR researcher Frank Oesterholt gave a presentation on the power-to-protein concept as part of the sessions concerning resource recovery. The presentation focussed on the potential of the concept in the watercycle of the city of Amsterdam but also briefly announced the construction of…

July 2016: Avecom and KWR start construction of Power-to-Protein pilot plant

This summer Avecom and KWR will start the construction of the pilot plant for the production of SCP on-site. Recently the functional design was completed including the P&ID and subsequently a HAZOP was performed. The first pilot location will be at the WWTP Enschede of Water Board Vechtstromen.

KWR Watercycle Research Institute

Investigates, together with its research partners, the technological, economic and environmental feasibility of the 'Power-to-Protein' concept.