The main influence on deforestation is the construction of new fields for growing crops. A large number of crops are grown only to feed livestock. Research published in the journal Science shows that the phasing out of animal products would reduce global demand for agricultural land by 76%. Protein-rich food can also be produced in a simpler way that is environmentally friendly, with enough energy from the sun and carbon dioxide.
The sun and microbes are enough to make food
How does this concept actually work? It uses electricity from solar panels and carbon dioxide from the air to produce fuel for microbes. The microbes are grown in bioreactors and then dry protein powder is made from them. It is a process that uses soil, water and fertilizer in the most efficient way. The world’s population is growing rapidly and there is a need to provide enough food without increasing emissions from animal food production. It seems like science fiction, but microbes have long been used to make bread, yogurt and other foods.
There are already several companies that produce animal feed from microbes. Solar Foods is one of the most advanced companies on the market, producing food using only air and electricity.
An study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has an interesting view on this issue. The microbial system uses only 1% of the water needed for the crops and a small part of the fertilizer. The solar-microbial process could produce 15 tons of protein per hectare per year. For comparison, in the case of soybeans on the same area, it would be only 1.1 tons of protein.
The Finnish startup can bring a revolution in agriculture
The aforementioned Finnish company Solar Foods can be a revolution in agriculture. It combines research from the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and LUT University in Finland. It produces nutritionally complete proteins with the help of carbon dioxide in the air and electricity as the main raw materials. The product of the company’s efforts is a product called Solein.
It is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. Its production does not require irrigation systems, pesticides or fertilization. In addition, it can be produced in extreme conditions, such as Antarctica or space. Solar Foods has currently developed more than 20 foods that contain Solein. The company’s goal is to change the way food is produced so that the whole process is more sustainable and does not burden the environment.
Cellular agriculture as the future of food production
Solein is a unique single-cell protein born from an equally extraordinary bioprocess of electricity and air. With a neutral taste and appearance, Solein will disappear into your daily meal, while maintaining its rich nutritional value.
“Cellular farming, or cellular agriculture, is essentially the cultivation of microbial cells under controlled conditions, for the industrial production of food instead of traditional farming practices,” says Dilek Ercili-Cura, Senior Specialist in Food Applications at Solar Foods. “It can mean farming and growing microorganisms – that is microbes, fungi or yeast – via traditional or gas fermentation processes and turning the biomass into high protein foods and on to our dinner plates. That is what we’re currently doing here at Solar Foods,” she explains.
So far, many people do not know about this method of protein production, but in the future it could become a major source of protein for most of the planet.