Solar Foods is creating edible protein "out of thin air."

Alternative Snacks

Solar Foods has developed a process that uses renewable energy and the carbon dioxide polluting our atmosphere to create an alternative protein it calls Solein.

The company says this process makes Solein 100 times more climate-friendly than other sources of protein, even those created from plants — and if it proves scalable, the technique could address both the devastating environmental impact of current agricultural techniques as well as the need to produce food in places where those techniques aren't workable.

Microbe Munchies

To create Solein, Solar Foods starts by using renewable energy to split water cells into hydrogen and oxygen. Then it combines the hydrogen with CO2, and adds potassium, sodium, and other nutrients.

Then the company feeds the concoction to microbes, which in turn create an edible ingredient Solar Foods says is roughly 20 to 25 percent carbohydrates, 5 to 10 percent fat, and 50 percent protein.

"Producing Solein is entirely free from agriculture — it doesn't require arable land or irrigation and isn't limited by climate conditions," Solar Foods told Dezeen. "It can be produced anywhere around the world, even in areas where conventional protein production has never been possible."

Startup Synergy

Solar Foods hopes to get Solein into grocery stores within the next two years, perhaps in the form of protein shakes or plant-based yogurt. Eventually, the company might even team up with other future food startups.

“We know Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods use pea protein, soy proteins" CEO Pasi Vainikka told Fast Company. "And if they scale big time, they need a lot of these proteins."

READ MORE: Would you eat a burger made out of CO2 captured from the air? [Fast Company]

More on alternative protein: Tyson Foods’ Alt-Meat Nuggets Will Hit Grocery Stores This Summer

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