Producing Food from Electricity and Air

GridResearchers from Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have successfully created food out of electricity and carbon dioxide, which they hope could one day be used to help solve world hunger.

According to reports, the single-cell protein can be produced wherever renewable energy is available, with uses ranging from food to animal feed.

“In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine,” co-author of the research, Juha-Pekka Pitkanen, said in a statement. “One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance that the consumer can use to produce the needed protein.”

The researchers achieved this result by exposing those raw materials and putting them in a small “protein reactor.” After exposing it to electrolysis, chemical decomposition occurs. After about two weeks, one gram of powder made of 50 percent protein and 25 percent carbohydrate.

“Compared to traditional agriculture, the production method currently under development does not require a location with the conditions for agriculture, such as the right temperature, humidity or a certain soil type,” LUT professor Jero Ahola said in a statement. “This allows us to use a completely automatised process to produce the animal feed required in a shipping container facility built on the farm. The method requires no pest-control substances. Only the required amount of fertiliser-like nutrients is used in the closed process. This allows us to avoid any environmental impacts, such as runoffs into water systems or the formation of powerful greenhouse gases.”

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