It may not fall from the sky just yet, but food can be grown out of thin air. Solar Foods, a Finnish company, is planning to introduce a new protein powder called Solein, made entirely out of CO₂, water, and electricity. CO₂ is extracted from the air using carbon-capture technology then combined with water and nutrients through a natural fermentation process. The powder is a wheat-flour-like product that contains 50 percent protein content, five to 10 percent fat, 20 to 25 percent carbs, and looks and tastes like wheat flour.
According to Think Big, it is slated to be launched in 2021 and soon afterward may start appearing in protein shakes and yogurt. If it proves successful, Solein could feed people from all over the world who otherwise don’t have access to traditional methods of food production.
Solar Foods claims that Solein is “free from agricultural limitations,” and indeed, since it’s produced indoors, it does not rely on arable land, irrigation, or weather of any kind. The idea for Solein originated with NASA, and true to its roots, Solar Foods is already partnering with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption.
In the short term, Solar Foods plans to launch the product, begin the safety approval process in the EU, and publish plans for a massive factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually. By 2050, they are ambitiously aiming to provide sustenance to nine billion people.