Finnish Company Uses NASA’s Concept to Create Food from Thin Air
Finnish company Solar Foods is in the process of bringing a new type of protein to the market, and they're creating it out of thin air.
The protein powder, known as Solein, is made out of CO2, electricity, and water. It looks and tastes like wheat flour, and the idea is based on a concept developed by NASA.
The flour-like substance contains50% protein (with all of the essential amino acids), 20-25% carbohydrates and 5-10% fat. Solar Foods is planning to launch the product in 2021, and it could easily become an ingredient in a variety of food products.
The manufacturing of Solein is a carbon-neutral process, and with an excess amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, it's a highly sustainable food source.
To create Solein, Solar Foods first extracts CO2 from the air using carbon-capture technology. It's then combined with water, nutrients, and vitamins using 100% renewable solar energy to create a natural fermentation process.
Solein is completely "free from agricultural limitations," as the food can be created entirely indoors.
The company is currently working with the European Space Agency to discuss the development of foods for off-planet production and consumption. Solar Foods sees the potential to produce Solein in areas where conventional agriculture is impossible.
News of Solein comes at a time when more consumers and environmental advocates are focusing on meat-free foods. Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are producing burgers made of soy and pea proteins as well as other vegetarian ingredients that look and taste just like red meat.
The "fake meat" industry and developments like Solein allow for more sustainable foods that have a lower environmental impact and a reduced risk of foodborne illness.
Meat plants have a history of spreading foodborne disease. In July 2019, ground bison burger patties from Northfork Bison Distributions, Inc. were linked to an E.coli outbreak that led to eight hospitalizations. People in seven different states were affected.
Solein offers other benefits, too. For starters, the manufacturing process uses 250 times less water and ten times less land than soy. It takes just 10 liters of water to produce one kilogram of Solein. Beef requires 15,000 liters of water, and soy requires 2,500 liters of water.
Solar Foods is currently testing Solein in a variety of different food applications, including meat and ice cream. It plans to enter the market with food-producing partners and is slated to launch in 2021.