A future food with green credentials
Sep 3, 2021
A Finnish company has found a way to produce a protein-rich food using just air, water and electricity.
A Finnish company has found a way to produce a protein-rich food using just air, water and electricity. Helsinki-based startup Solar Foods says its carbon-neutral process does not depend on weather, irrigation or even land.
“The science is like magic but for real,” declares Pasi Vainikka, Solar’s chief executive.
Called Solein, the food is created indoors using a technology developed by NASA to sustain future human life on Mars. Made up of 50 per cent protein, and looking and tasting like flour, Solein is created through a process akin to brewing beer. Living microbes are put in liquid and fed with carbon dioxide and hydrogen released from water via electrolysis. The microbes create protein, which is dried to make a food powder. Vainikka describes its production method as a “new harvest for the people”.
Solein is 100 times more climate-friendly than any animal or plant-based alternative, according to Vainikka and company co-founder Dr Juha-Pekka Pitkänen. They report that producing a kilogram of Solein takes just a fraction of the water needed to produce a conventional protein.
The food is expected to launch commercially next year and appear in products such as yogurts and protein meals within two years.