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Finland producing food protein from CO2, water, and electricity (solarfoods.fi)
46 points by brylie 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



Posting this as a top level comment as well, found a bit more info after a cursory search, make of it what you will.

> The company first uses electricity to split water and obtain hydrogen, which is then mixed with carbon dioxide and fertilizers such as phosphorus and ammonia. These are then fed to an undisclosed type of soil-derived bacteria, and through a fermentation process, Solar Foods ends up with a powder made of 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 15% other nutrients.

https://labiotech.eu/biotech-of-the-week/solar-foods-space-m...

https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Telecommunications_Integr...


> 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 15% other nutrients.

I think it is important to know what sort of Protein, Carbs, Fat and Nutrients.

But looking at those numbers, are we going to see people in the future living on Soylent that is 10x cheaper than its price today?


You need Nitrogen for the amine(-NH2) part of amino acids to build proteins. Co2, water, and electricity does not include Nitrogen.

I assume the left out the part where they take Nitrogen from the air as part of the fermentation process.


>Food out of thin air.

Plants also produce food from CO2 + Water + solar energy. How does it compare to plants?


They claim 250x improvement in water usage and 10x in land usage over soy. This is not surprising at all. Once your throw away all excess parts of plants necessary for reproduction and survival against the harshness of the environment etc, you will have huge efficiency gains.

https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/


Yep but it is:

Water+(Renewable)Electricity+Nutrients&Vitamins+CO2

that creates these proteins/food.

So it is not actually "out of thin air", and until we don't know how much Nutrients & Vitamins are used (and of course how much electricity and water) we have no way to know how "efficient" the process is.

I mean, for all we know, it could be needed (intentionally exaggerated) 1 M3 of water, 10 KWh, 15 Kg of Nutrients and Vitamins besides 1 Kg of CO2 to get 1 Kg of food.


My first question was how this compares to Quorn[1], a product already on the market from Marlow Foods in the UK. It's also a single cell protein and I personally think their chicken-like products are quite good.

Google lead me to a previous discussion on HN [2]. Apparently the distinction is that this doesn't require carbohydrate feedstock [3], i.e. no dependence on conventional agriculture. Which is big if true.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18344636

3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/31/electr...


Can't find the details on mobile - is there a list of amimoacids and the ratios produced by the process ?


Best I could find [1]

> In its dry powered format, Vainikka compared Solein’s nutritional profile to that of soy, algae, or some animal-based proteins. It contains 50% protein with all the essential amino acids, 5-10% fat, 20-25% carbohydrates, as well as Vitamin B.

I am more concerned about the health implication of such foods. I don't think it's enough to say an artificially produced food does not contain any harmful substances. The specific ratios of micronutrients and amino acids and such have unknown impacts on our health, so, this is as scary as it is exciting.

[1] https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2019/07/15/Solar-Foods...


We also cannot digest all the proteins out there, but this reads very promising. If there are no harmful substances to begin with, it can probably be used in further processing by yeasts or microalgae to obtain a wider range of nutrients.


"Finland producing..." funny choice of words here.


Really sparse on details. Any chemists able to throw their two cents? Maybe which NASA program they might be talking about? This feels like a perpetual energy gimmick.


Not much additional info here, but I've managed to find this: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Telecommunications_Integr...


Not perpetual energy - it says energy+co2+water which is basically all that plants do.

Presumably their revolutionary process is Yet Another Yeast.


What's the benefit of this over growing high-protein plants like lentils with grow-lamps? Presumably CO2, water, and electricity are also the only resources consumed for the latter. Is is a difference in efficiency?

Also, how do they account for the need for trace elements that I assume even a single celled organism would need. For example, where does it get selenium and sulfur?


They have land and water use comparisons that are obviously favorable (not obvious because it's obviously a perfect invention, but obvious because it would be bad marketing to show worse performance)


Interesting. Are these complete proteins? As in, do they contain all essential and non-essential amino acids?




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