A Finnish research team has taken steps toward producing food from electricity. The process is actually quite simple, only requiring the addition of water, carbon dioxide, and microbes which are placed into a bioreactor then turning it on. After the ingredients are exposed to electrolysis, the end result is a powdery substance consisting of more than 50% protein and 25% carbohydrates. I’m told you can even change the texture by altering the microbes inputted. The synthetic food produced is part of the Food From Electricity Project, which is a collaboration between Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Many feel approaches like these will combat current greenhouse gas production that are a result of the agriculture and livestock industries. At present, it is believed that the meat industry alone accounts for around 15% of global emissions of greenhouse gasses. Researchers argue that using electrolysis allows them to completely automate the process to produce food as well as animal feed. And it’s worth noting that this method also would avoid the use of pest-control chemicals, avoiding much-debated runoff issues. Interestingly, at this time the process takes about two weeks to produce one gram of protein, which is generated in equipment the size of a coffee cup. The goal of course, is to scale up the process, which I’m told will have the result of being 10 times more energy efficient than photosynthesis. As I understand it, the study will continue for another three years, and in that time the team plans to fine-tune the reactor, improve efficiency and develop the system for commercialization. Obviously, there are practical applications the team hopes to see achieve beyond the environmental benefits. As you can imagine, the potential impact of food production using only electricity and other easily accessible raw materials would provide a source of food for the world’s starving populations in areas that are not suited to agricultural production. I suspect in the near future we will continue to see processes and products that will develop in an attempt to provide sustainable and environmentally friendly food. Keep in mind that within only the last year we have seen numerous solutions presented to the current issues. For instance, already in production are lab-grown meats as well as the beginnings of insect farming. Who really knows what will stick and what won’t but the menu certainly looks to be changing for the future. There is a cool infographic about what that might look like HERE. (Source: Futurism, Newatlas)
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