Imagine a world 10 years from now. You step into a restaurant for lunch or dinner and the waiter walks up to you and asks, ‘Sir, will you like some “fried dioxide” or perhaps “CO2 fondue”? We can’t say for sure whether items like those will be on menu or not but we are damn sure that you will find protein manufactured out of carbon dioxide on the menu. Sounds a little far-fetched? Actually not! It is a reality now. Yes, Carbon Dioxide is very much edible (at least in some sense).
You know that there is a country named Finland right? But what you might not know is that there is an institute called VTT Technical Research Centre located in Finland. You even perhaps don’t know that that institute has someone called Juha-Pekka Pitkänen. Who is this person? He is the principle scientist but of what?
He is the principle scientists of the team who had been working on a research project called Neo-Carbon Energy Research. Alternately, the project is also sometimes dubbed as Food from Electricity. Juha-Pekka Pitkänen is the lead scientists in the team which also consists of members from LUT or Lappeenranta University of Technology.
These people published a press release where Juha-Pekka Pitkänen speaks of a new bioreactor – a protein power plant that is capable of making protein out of nothing but thin air. In fact, they have actually working prototype in hand.
But Why Did We Say Carbon Dioxide is Edible?
According to the press release, the prototype that Juha-Pekka Pitkänen and his team members made is said to have 10 times more efficiency that the natural process of photosynthesis. So might be, we have after all beaten Nature!
Anyway, coming back to the Carbon Dioxide is Edible part of our article, here is what the machine or the bioreactor does – it converts carbon dioxide into protein powder. Of course, there are some other raw materials involved. Actually three more – water, electricity and microbes. So, how does this power plant work?
The machine is basically a small device of the size of a coffee-maker. Now what you need to do is put CO2, H2O and microbes inside the device. The machine actually captures carbon dioxide from air – atmospheric air.
Once the brew is in the machine, just pass electricity through it. Open the top lid of the device and you will be greeted with a powder. Scientists studied the powder and found the following components:
- Protein: 50%
- Carbohydrates: 25%
- Nucleic acid and fats: remaining part (25%)
- Gluten content: ZERO (0%)
So, now we have a device that makes protein out of thin air and carbohydrates and fats are also present.
Okay, Carbon Dioxide is Edible! Any Catch?
Just a small little problem. 1 gram of protein was created by the bioreactor in 14 days. This means it will take 30 days to make a teaspoonful of protein powder. Otherwise, it is just fine. The scientists however are hopeful that in coming 10 years, as more and more work is done, the output and efficiency of the machine will increase manifolds. In 10 years from now, the machine will become norm of the day.
There is another problem. The machine currently uses electricity. That most comes from non-renewable resources. Juha-Pekka Pitkänen and his team are planning on incorporating solar cells for electricity generation. That way, wastage will be reduced all the way down to zero and it will be completely natural.
Wondering What It Tastes Like?
This carbon dioxide turned protein powder is really, really blunt. It tastes nothing for now. Juha-Pekka Pitkänen actually tasted the powder and he says that it tastes even less than dry yeast. He means that it doesn’t really have a taste that you will like. It doesn’t have a taste that can be defined. But that problem can be overcome easily.
Impact of the New Bioreactor on World?
One thing that can be said for sure is that in future, this small device can be taken to places where there is food scarcity and applied in mass production of protein out of thin air. This means that world hunger will be a thing of history. It can also be independently installed in houses in near future when disparity of income becomes way to too much and many people slip into poverty and struggle for food.
What do you think of this new innovation? We definitely think that it is something really noble. Something that entire world should come forward and support. But alas! The devils of capitalism may try to take control of even this noble innovation.