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This New Protein Made from Thin Air Might Just Save the Planet

Photo: Solarfoods.fi for Solar Foods

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In what is perhaps one of the most interesting and oddly inventive ideas ever introduced to the world of food, Finnish based Solar Foods has created a protein made from thin air. Founded in 2017, Solar Foods is a food-tech company that specializes in innovative food production on a global scale. Their new creation is called Solein® and is dubbed a revolutionary bio-tech solution that enables natural protein production using renewable air and electricity. Naturally, these simple ingredients are utilized by a rather unique yet complex method called bioprocess. Bioprocess uses complete living cells or their components (e.g. bacteria, enzymes, chloroplasts) to obtain desired products. What that means in layman’s terms is that Solein® has the potential to be a new alternative to plant-based and animal-based protein that doesn’t rely on terrestrial resources. 

This is significant because the food industry has a massive impact on worldwide carbon emissions. It’s reported that livestock contribute 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions. Anthropogenic means man-made. That’s the equivalent of 7.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. To get a sense of the scale, here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post, written by reporter Chris Mooney:

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“In the International System of Units, the prefix “giga” means 109, or one billion (1,000,000,000). Hence terms like “gigawatt” or “gigahertz.” Thus, a gigaton is equivalent to a billion metric tons.

A male African elephant might weigh, at most, 6.8 metric tons, according to the San Diego Zoo. So a gigaton is well over a hundred million African elephants. As for sea life, the blue whale can weigh as much as 146 metric tons, according to NOAA. So a gigaton is more than 6 million blue whales.”

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“We’ve set out to change humankind's approach to food,” Pasi Vainikka, Solar Foods CEO says. Suffice to say, it requires thinking outside of the box to truly combat this cubicle of impending crisis. Using renewable air and electricity, Solar Foods’ believes Solein® will help create a new era of food diversity. Time will determine the effectiveness of this new protein. If the fate of the world interests you, further information about Solein® can be found here.

Photo: Solarfoods.fi for Solar Foods