Teams at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland discovered that by subjecting water, microbes like bacteria, and carbon dioxide to sustained electrical currents they can produce ‘food’ with nutritional value.
The technique involves bioreactors about the size of a coffee cup, and results in a mixture that is about 50 percent protein and 25 percent carbohydrates, as well as containing nucleic acids and fats.
While being touted as a solution to the world’s hunger problems, the production is in its nascent stages – it currently takes two weeks to create 1g of protein. Food security is a major issue around the world and the UN estimate that 2 billion people will lack basic nourishment by 2050.
The experiment is part of LUT and VTT’s Neo-Carbon Energy research into emission-free power systems. According to Juha-Pekka Pitkanen, a lead scientist at VTT, the method could provide one solution to food shortage, allowing people to effectively jump-start their diet at home.