1. 1922
    1922 J.H. Müller isolates a “sulfur-containing amino acid” at Columbia University in New York, but gives it the wrong chemical formula.
    1922 J.H. Müller isolates a “sulfur-containing amino acid” at Columbia University in New York, but gives it the wrong chemical formula.
  2. 1925
    1925 S. Odake in Japan corrects the formula and names the amino acid “Methionine.”
    1925 S. Odake in Japan corrects the formula and names the amino acid “Methionine.”
  3. 1931
    1931 The US chemist William Cumming Rose conducts initial experiments with rats to investigate the nutritional importance of amino acids.
    1931 The US chemist William Cumming Rose conducts initial experiments with rats to investigate the nutritional importance of amino acids.
  4. 1946/47
    1946/47 Degussa creates the first technically feasible method of synthesizing DL-methionine.
    1946/47 Degussa creates the first technically feasible method of synthesizing DL-methionine.
  5. 1948
    1948 Production of methionine begins at the Konstanz plant.
    1948 Production of methionine begins at the Konstanz plant.
  6. 1953
    1953 The German Ministry of Agriculture approves the use of methionine in animal feed.
    1953 The German Ministry of Agriculture approves the use of methionine in animal feed.
  7. 1960
    1960 An amino acid lab is set up to determine the quantity and quality of amino acids. New amino acids are developed.
    1960 An amino acid lab is set up to determine the quantity and quality of amino acids. New amino acids are developed.
  8. 1977
    1977 Production begins in Mobile, USA.
    1977 Production begins in Mobile, USA.
  9. 2006
    2006 The world’s biggest DL-methionine plant goes into operation in Antwerp.
    2006 The world’s biggest DL-methionine plant goes into operation in Antwerp.
  10. 2016
    2016 Evonik begins to build its second world-scale facility in Singapore. Beginning in 2019, the plant is scheduled to produce 150,000 tons of DL-methionine per year.
    2016 Evonik begins to build its second world-scale facility in Singapore. Beginning in 2019, the plant is scheduled to produce 150,000 tons of DL-methionine per year.
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Milestones of Chemistry

Methionine

DL-methionine is one of the eight amino acids that are essential to human life. A method of industrially manufacturing methionine was developed after World War II in order to ameliorate the protein shortage in postwar Germany. The use of methionine as an animal-feed additive started a few years later, and it is now a key component of modern animal nutrition.

It could be called a megatrend or one of the biggest challenges that all of us will face in the future: the feeding of a steadily growing global population. Increasing population numbers and a rising standard of living are also causing the demand for meat to grow. In fact, the UN estimates that 456 million tons of meat will be consumed in 2050. At the same time, more and more people want food to be produced in ways that conserve resources and are compatible with the environment. Evonik has an answer to the question „What will we eat in the future?“: the use of methionine as a feed additive.

Methionine has been used in animal feed since 1953

DL-methionine is one of the eight essential amino acidsEssential amino acids are called vital substances because no living organism could survive without them. Human beings require eight essential amino acids, which are contained in food. or human beings. Shortly after World War II, Degussa, a predecessor company of Evonik, developed a technically feasible method for synthesizing DL-methionine. In 1948 the plant in Konstanz began to produce this amino acid and quickly attained a capacity of 30 tons per month. The first drug containing DL-methionine was marketed shortly thereafter under the name Thiomedon. Methionine was first used in animal feed in 1953. Today it is an indispensable component of modern animal feed worldwide.

The use of methionine means that about 20 million fewer hectares of arable land are needed to grow animal feed worldwide — that’s about 1.5 percent of the total amount of arable land.Thomas Kaufmann

sustainability expert at Evonik

A second methionine facility is under construction in Singapore

“Neither humans nor animals could survive without these naturally occurring protein components,” says Thomas Kaufmann, a sustainability expert at Evonik. “As precisely dosed additives, they ensure that pigs, chickens, and other animals can process their feed more effectively. That’s good for the animals, and it also enables people to produce meat, fish, eggs, and milk in a cost-efficient, environmentally compatible, and socially sustainable way.” Here are a few figures that demonstrate this fact: one kilogram of methionine replaces 260 kilograms of soybean meal, reduces ammonia emissions by eight kilograms, and cuts nitrate use by 7.9 kilograms.

According to Kaufmann, the worldwide production of methionine also means that around 20 million fewer hectares of arable land are needed to grow animal feed. That corresponds to about 1.5 percent of the arable land worldwide — an area the size of Senegal. Evonik manufactures about 580,000 tons of the total global production at its plants in the USA, Belgium, Germany, and Singapore. In October 2016 the company began to build another world-scale methionine facility in Singapore. The plant is scheduled to go into operation in 2019 with a planned annual capacity of 150,000 tons.

Structure

The structure of methionine

The structure of methionine

The catalytic-chemical process used to produce methionine creates two different molecules that are mirror images of each other. They are known as D-methionine and L-methionine. Living organisms directly utilize L-methionine, and some animals, such as chickens, can convert DL-methionine into the L form.


Effect

Effect and function

Effect and function

Essential amino acids such as methionine must be ingested with food. These building blocks of life can be optimally utilized only when they are present in the right proportions. If this is not the case, some of the food consumed will be uselessly excreted. Liebig’s barrel depicts this “Law of the Minimum.”


Invention

Werner Schwarze

The Brilliant Synthesis Expert

Werner Schwarze was born in Marl/Hüls in 1913. He received his doctorate in 1938 and began working for Degussa AG in 1940. Schwarze developed a technically feasible method for synthesizing the essential amino acids in 1946/47. He died in 2007. Since 1997 the Evonik Foundation has been awarding the Werner Schwarze Scholarship to assist young scientists who are conducting amino acid research.