You cannot live on air - every child knows that. You can, says Dr. Pasi Vainikka. Together with Dr. Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Vainikka heads the Finnish start-up Solar Foods Ltd. in Helsinki, which was founded in 2017. The two scientists have developed a process in which - in a nutshell - carbon dioxide is separated from the air and, with the help of renewable energies, converted into a protein powder that serves as the basis for the production of all kinds of food. In the long term, according to Solar Foods, this could mean the end of all conventional agriculture, since no more livestock would be needed to produce meat and no more arable land to produce grain, only large fermentation plants. And instead of producing more and more carbon dioxide with ever more intensive agriculture and thus heating the global climate, the climate killer would be used as a raw material and thus reduced.
Solein is the name of the substance that should help stop the further exploitation of the earth and will be used to feed the steadily growing human race even in 30 years. Other ingredients besides carbon dioxide are hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria, some water, nitrogen, some minerals and solar power. With the help of solar energy, the water is split up. The bacteria are fed with hydrogen. In a fermentation process, they produce a flour that resembles wheat flour in appearance and taste. That's Solein.
According to Solar Foods, Solein consists of 65 to 75 percent protein, 10 to 20 percent carbohydrates and 4 to 10 percent each of fat and minerals. The first solar food factory is expected to start operations in 2021 - provided the European Union approves it - and produce up to 50 million meals per year. Solar Foods forecasts possible annual sales of around one billion dollars as early as 2023.
Further information is available at solarfoods.fi/
Please also read the article in The Guardian here.
Picture: Solar Foods