Solar Foods, a company from Finland, is introducing a new protein powder, “Solein,” made from CO₂, water, and electricity. Inspired by a concept developed by NASA, Solein has the potential to be a carbon-neutral source of protein. This flour-like ingredient contains 50% protein, 5-10% fat, and 20-25% carbs and resembles wheat flour in both form and taste. It will initially be available in protein shakes and yogurt, but could be used in a variety of food products after its launch in 2021. The production of Solein is carbon-neutral, and the potential for growth is vast given the abundance of CO₂. This could be an exciting solution for reducing greenhouse gasses and enhancing the “man-made meat” industry.
Solein: The Carbon-Neutral and Environmentally Friendly Protein Powder
Solar Foods produces Solein by using carbon-capture technology to extract CO₂ from the air and then combining it with water, nutrients, and vitamins. The natural fermentation process, similar to yeast and lactic acid bacteria, is powered by 100% renewable solar energy from partner Fortum. The resulting single-celled protein is free from agricultural limitations, as it is produced indoors and does not rely on arable land, water, or favorable weather.
The company has already collaborated with the European Space Agency to create food for off-planet consumption and sees potential for bringing protein production to areas with challenging climates or ground conditions. With the popularity of plant-based burgers from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, the scaling of their supply presents an environmental challenge. Solein, being completely renewable, could offer these companies a way to further reduce their impact on the environment. The idea for Solein originated at NASA and the company is exploring its potential for off-planet production.
Solein: An Environmentally Friendly Solution to the Impacts of the Livestock Industry
The Negative Impacts of Livestock Industries and Promise of Renewable Protein Sources”
The livestock industries, including beef, poultry, pork, and fish, are widely acknowledged to be major contributors to environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, and antibiotic resistance. These industries cause harm to the planet through deforestation for grazing land, factory farming runoff, disrupted marine ecosystems, and excessive use of antibiotics in food animals.
However, a promising solution is emerging in the form of a new source of protein derived from the two most renewable resources available – CO₂ and sunlight. This innovative approach to protein production offers a way to move away from the damaging practices of the livestock industries and provide a stable, long-term solution to meet the world’s nutritional needs.