A batch of single-cell protein - which can be further developed for use as food and animal feed - has been produced by Finnish researchers using electricity and carbon dioxide. Edward Baran reports
Making food almost out of thin air. That's what these Finnish researchers are doing using electricity and carbon dioxide taken from the air to make a batch of single-cell protein The team from the Finnish University of Technology say it can then be further developed into a protein powder, which could be used as food or animal feed (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST AT VTT, JUHA -PEKKA PITKAINEN, SAYING: "So what we are doing here is that we are growing micro-organisms. And the raw materials for the micro-organisms it's electricity and CO2. And with electricity we split water so we get hydrogen and oxygen so that the hydrogen is then the energy source for the cells and CO2 is the carbon source and in addition to that so we have inorganic nutrients like ammonium sulphate as the raw materials." At the moment, the production of just one gram of the protein powder takes around two weeks. The 'protein reactor' machine is roughly the size of a coffee maker and can be used anywhere with access to electricity. But it's not going to be an answer to world hunger just yet. Before cattle or humans can be fed with the protein, the efficiency of the technology needs to be vastly increased.