A startup is producing protein from air and electricity

Solar Food, a Finnish startup, plans to produce edible protein from the air and electricity. The company claims to be working with the Euro...


Solar Food, a Finnish startup, plans to produce edible protein from the air and electricity. The company claims to be working with the European Space Agency ESA to produce and deliver food for future space missions. Solar Food previously received € 2 million in funding and plans to start commercializing the product by 2021.



Protein powder.
Solar Foods' manufacturing process is derived from research by VTT Technical Research Center Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). The main components of the Finnish startup's production process include air and electricity.
The manufacturing process begins by generating hydrogen from water electrolysis. The company then combined hydrogen with carbon dioxide and some minerals to feed the bacteria to create proteins. Eventually these bacteria are heat treated to produce protein powders.

"Our goal is to develop the protein into a high quality product. It will have an environmental impact 10 to 100 times smaller than meat or alternative products currently on the market. ". Pasi Vainikk, CEO of Solar Food said.

The edible protein from Solar Foods is vegan and does not depend on animals or plants during production. This separation from traditional agriculture is not only capable of changing what you eat in the future. It also has the ability to change what humans can eat during spaceflight.


Pasi Vainikk - CEO of Solar Food.

The startup's small bioreactor made of steel could become the first version of the popular copy machine seen on Star Trek. Similar to a copier - a machine capable of creating food without the need for a lot of raw materials. Solar Food's bioreactor produces edible proteins that can feed its crew or colonists on Mars.

"The environmental conditions on Mars are very different from the Earth, but it still has the sun and a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This pioneering technology from Solar Foods allows the production of new foods right away. So we think this new technology can use components already on Mars, "said Kimmo Isbjornssund, Director of ESA Finland Business Incubation Center.

Solar Foods said it has attracted 5.5 million euros ($ 6.1 million) of money invested in the Solein project. They anticipate by the end of this decade. Even until 2025, Solein powder production costs will be equivalent to soy protein powder production costs.

Being able to have competitive prices with soy protein, according to Solar Foods, depends on electricity prices. The Finnish team says that if they can use electricity from sources like solar and wind, they can produce Solein powder with almost zero greenhouse gas emissions.

If that becomes a reality, it could help the world solve many agricultural-related issues.


Mr. Pasi Vainikka holds a test tube containing protein powder produced from bacteria - (Image: BBC).

The BBC says Solein powder tastes nothing but is a wheat-like, protein-rich, fat-containing and carbohyrates-like food. Solar wants to use it for all kinds of foods, from baked goods, cookies, ice cream, pasta, instant noodles to sauces or sandwiches.

In addition, Solein powder can also be used as an intermediary to grow meat in vitro or as feed for cattle. Even if following the plan set out by the Solar company, Solein powder can help meet the global meat demand for many years to come.

The first Solein powder factory will be launched in 2025.

This is not the only startup interested in making proteins without animals or plants. Recently, Perfect Day - a startup based in Silicon Valley (USA), also followed this trend when introducing artificial dairy products without raising cows. Milk is made from water, fatty acids and synthetic proteins from specific probiotics, similar in quality and flavor to natural cow's milk.


Ryan Pandya (left) and Perumal Gandhi (right) - two founders of Perfect Day.

By creating artificial cow milk, the startup expects to reduce costs for the dairy industry, which consumes a lot of resources for grass farms, labor ...
In addition, artificial milk also ensures food safety and hygiene when there are no bacteria commonly found in natural milk such as E. Coli, Salmonella ...

However, high production costs are a common challenge for businesses pursuing artificial food technology. On the other hand, businesses in this sector also faced criticism about the risk of unemployment in the livestock sector. Some experts also question the possibility of complete synthesis of irreplaceable proteins in meat, milk ...

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High Tech Brain: A startup is producing protein from air and electricity
A startup is producing protein from air and electricity
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