This Protein Made From Thin Air Could Totally Change the Food Industry
Producing food takes up a lot of precious resources and creates a lot of toxic waste. But scientists in Finland might have found a revolutionary solution: protein created from electricity and air. Here’s how it works and why this discovery is such a huge deal…
I’m not vegan or vegetarian so please don’t call me a smug a**hole here… But producing meat for human consumption is extremely damaging to our environment— it’s a fact. The beef industry creates plenty of toxic waste and uses a lot of water. I know this might seem unbelievable for us in the ‘first world,’ but water is a limited and valuable resource– and it’s not cheap.
But vegans shouldn’t pat themselves on the back either. Plant-based foods might not take-up quite as much water as meat, but they still use a lot. That’s why almonds and fresh fruits cost so much money. Plus most trendy vegan foods end up raising the global prices. Making the staple foods nearly unaffordable for people living in the countries where they’re produced– quinoa is a perfect example. But that’s another issue altogether.
Well research teams in Finland think they’ve figured out a way to combat all these problems: food waste, limited resources, and world hunger. How? Protein made from electricity and air. Specifically carbon dioxide. Meaning no pesticides, no greenhouse gas emissions, no deforestation, and no water runoff.
“In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine. One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance that the consumer can use to produce the needed protein,” principal researcher Juha-Pekka Pitkänen said to Finnish outlet Yle.
Since electricity can be harvested from the sun, researchers believe photosynthesis could become up to ten times more efficient than it already is. That means more plants– like protein-packed soybeans– could grow more quickly.
But it doesn’t just accelerate plant growth. The process can actually create edible protein using carbon dioxide and electricity. This is extremely beneficial for areas where growing food is not an option due to drought or lack of arable land.
Right now, it takes almost 2 weeks to create just 1 gram of protein using this method. So while it is more efficient and sustainable than traditional methods, it isn’t quite efficient enough to use in a practical way yet. But researchers are on it– and they’re optimistic. So much in fact that Pitkänen believes the process can be commercially available in 10 years. And he sees no reason why average consumers couldn’t have their own protein reactor inside their own home. Welcome to the future!