Finland-based food technology startup Solar Foods recently developed a new technology to produce vegan protein powder from carbon dioxide. The company—which was founded as a university spin-off in 2017—uses electricity and carbon dioxide captured from the air to create a substance that tastes like wheat flour and it made up of 50 percent protein, while the remainder is made of carbohydrates and fats. Production requires breaking apart water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity in a bioreactor. The resulting hydrogen is then added to carbon dioxide, which can be fed to microbes during a fermentation process. Solar Foods hopes to use the resulting protein powder as an ingredient in foods or as a base for plant-based burger patties. “Currently we are working with a reactor that is about the size of a man,” Solar Foods CEO Pasi Vainikka told media outlet The Telegraph. “The full-scale factory would not have reactors the size of a man but the reactors would be about the size of a bus. If you have several of them, suddenly you are producing thousands of tons per year.” Solar Foods is preparing to bring its product to consumers by 2021 after it obtains a food license from the European Union.
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