This Startup Makes High-tech Protein From Thin Air By Using Solar Energy

Posted: Jan 02, 2023

Solar Foods, a Finnish food tech company famed for its approach toward alternative protein - made of microbes cultured with electricity and air, is ready to make giant strides in 2023. The company is building its first commercial-scale factory near Helsinki, Finland, that can make food directly from carbon dioxide, New Scientist reported.

"We are a bit behind schedule, but production may start just about in 2023," Pasi Vainikka, CEO of Solar Foods, told New Scientist. Vainikka added that the factory will be able to produce 100 tones per year, which will suffice for four or five million meals.

The alternative protein, Solein, and its usage in various foods have already been tested in a pilot factory for two years. Recently, Business Finland approved a €34 million grant funding to Solar Foods, making it the largest public grant funding for cellular agriculture in the world. In September 2022, Solar Foods was also selected to be a part of the European Commission's strategic hydrogen economy core.

Here to replace animal-based nutrition

Solar Foods intends to create an environmentally-friendly way to feed ourselves. "We are here to replace animal-based nutrition, that’s the big mission I would say, for all plant-based and similar companies,” Vainikka told Food Matters Live. "The problem in the food system is, broadly speaking, [using] animals and industrialized animal keeping. Like it or not, it’s a fact. Growing and harvesting that kind of nourishment with significantly fewer resources [and without animals] is what we’re doing."

So what does the company do?

Solein resembles yellow powder that can be added to food. The animal-free protein can be created by first selecting a soil sample that is examined for best-quality organisms. Until a suitable microbe is ready, these are cultivated. They are then placed in a bioreactor where gas fermentation occurs.

By Deen Theresa
Date: January 2, 2023

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