Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Scientists in Finland have found a way to make protein in the laboratory from electricity and carbon dioxide. The process could reduce the effects of agriculture on a global warming while preventing famines.


Protein From Solar Energy & Carbon Dioxide Could Slow The Pace Of Climate Change

Scientists in Finland have found a way to make protein in the laboratory from electricity and carbon dioxide. The process could reduce the effects of agriculture on a global warming while preventing famines.

Humans need protein to survive, but growing the food that supplies the much needed protein adds carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, speeding up the pace of climate change. Agriculture has many other negative environmental effects.

protein from sunlight to fight climate changeGrowing crops and raising livestock both consume enormous quantities of water. Millions of tons of fertilizers made from petroleum are dumped on fields. Lagoons large enough to be seen from space are filled with animal waste. The runoff from those fields and lagoons pollute local rivers and streams before washing into the oceans.

Millions of acres of forests are chopped down every year to make room for more grazing land and farms. When those trees are burned or decompose, the carbon dioxide sequestered in their wood is released back into the atmosphere, making the world hotter.

Protein From Sunshine & CO2

Scientists in Finland are working on a new process that creates protein using electricity and carbon dioxide from the air. Think about that for a moment. It might actually be possible for people to feed themselves anywhere on earth using nothing but electricity from solar or other renewable energy sources.

No fertilizer, no animal waste, no deforestation, no emissions from trucks hauling food to market, and no famine in places where too little water and too much heat combine to make conventional agriculture impossible. Is it a dream?

Maybe. The technology isn’t quite ready to leap out of the laboratory quite yet. In fact, at present it takes two weeks to grow a gram of protein. But scientists at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and the VTT Technical Research Center in Finland have proven it can be done. Now all they have to do is scale up the process and scale down the costs.

“In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine. One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance that the consumer can use to produce the needed protein,” explains Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Principal Scientist at VTT.

Growing Food Anywhere

The protein produced in the lab could be consumed directly by humans or used as fodder for animals. “Compared to traditional agriculture, the production method currently under development does not require a location with the conditions for agriculture, such as the right temperature, humidity or a certain soil type.

“This allows us to use a completely automatized process to produce the animal feed required in a shipping container facility built on the farm. The method requires no pest control substances. Only the required amount of fertilizer-like nutrients is used in the closed process. This allows us to avoid any environmental impacts, such as runoffs into water systems or the formation of powerful greenhouse gases,” says Professor Jero Ahola of LUT.

The scientists claim their process is 10 times more energy efficient than ordinary photosynthesis. Next, they will attempt to produce larger quantities of their prototype protein so that full-scale trials leading to commercialization of the process can begin.

From The Lab To The Table

“We are currently focusing on developing the technology: reactor concepts, technology, improving efficiency and controlling the process. Control of the process involves adjustment and modelling of renewable energy so as to enable the microbes to grow as well as possible. The idea is to develop the concept into a mass product, with a price that drops as the technology becomes more common. The schedule for commercialization depends on the economy,” Ahola states.

Professor Pitkänen explains, “In the long term, protein created with electricity is meant to be used in cooking and products as it is. The mixture is very nutritious, with more than 50 per cent protein and 25 percent carbohydrates. The rest is fats and nucleic acids. The consistency of the final product can be modified by changing the organisms used in the production.”

The research is part of  the Neo-Carbon Energy project funded by the Academy of Finland. Its goal is to develop an energy system that is completely renewable and emission free. Goals don’t get much loftier than that.

Source: Science Daily | Photo credit: LUT

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Electrifying Industrial Heat for Steel, Cement, & More

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


You May Also Like


I frequently reach out to the electric vehicle community to share stories and ideas for upcoming articles. Andrew intrigued me when he shared a...


Solar and agriculture are beginning to converge as farmers learn renewable energy can make farming more efficient.


Vineyards in Spain are piloting a test of solar panels with an advanced "smart" tracking system get more bang for the agrivoltaics buck.


How do native trees and proper care for newly planted trees make a difference in their success in carbon capture and ecosystem renewal?

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.