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food from the air

Here is an invention that could change the world completely: food production... from air.

The protein powder produced by the researchers. Source: LUT.
The protein powder produced by the researchers. source: LUT.

We will explain: look at the trees around you. Where did they get the bulk of their mass from? Not from the earth, not from the water - but from the air. They are able to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and attach the carbon atoms to each other to form sugars - which then become structural materials for the plant. The same thing happens in any plant that does photosynthesis - that is, receives energy from the sun and uses it to fix carbon dioxide from the air.

We humans have learned to use this process to our advantage. We grow entire fields of crops, with a huge investment of energy and resources (water, land, fertilizer, etc.), just for this biological reaction, which will allow the plants to grow and provide us with food.

But the amount of agricultural land in the world is limited, and we have already said that agriculture requires a lot of energy and resources. So what if it was possible to produce food by absorbing carbon from the air anywhere, anytime? No land, no fields, no plants?

This is what researchers from Finland did recently[1]. They showed that they are able to use a bioreactor (in simple terms - a jar in which we control the conditions inside) that contains bacteria. The bioreactor feeds the bacteria carbon dioxide from the environment, and they turn it into sugars, proteins and other nutrients. From time to time, an electric current is passed through the bioreactor that kills some of the bacteria and solidifies these food components into a solid powder that can be filtered from the water - and used as food. And even quite successful: it contains 50% protein, 25% sugars, and the rest - fat and nucleic acids.

Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Where does the energy come from to flow the air into the bioreactor, or to produce the electric current? It turns out that you don't need a lot of energy for this, and using solar panels you can supply it to the device.

Description of the food production system.
Description of the food production system.

Now, let's face it: right now this business is at the prototype level. And not only that, but from the announcement about the research we can learn that the bacteria also need to eat - therefore it is necessary to flow certain nutrients into the bioreactor. So it is not yet clear what the degree of success here is, but the researchers claim that the process is ten times more energy efficient than any current food production method, and that they will be able to reproduce the success on a large scale within a decade[2], with giant tanks that create food - out of thin air. And not only that, but they will be able to do it anywhere: in arid deserts, in mountains without soil, or in the heart of the city. any city And of course it will be possible to get food with different flavors and with different nutrients, depending on the type of bacteria grown in the containers.

Say you don't want to eat this powder? Well, your right. But keep in mind that modern agriculture is not particularly good for the planet, to put it mildly. If you want to save the environment - maybe you should consider switching to a diet based on bacterial powder. But even if you decide to give up, the meat industry will probably switch to feeding the cows, sheep, chickens and everything else with this powder - which is a great thing, because the food that animals get in the United States alone every year could feed 800 million people[3].

If this technology proves itself, it has the potential to change the world: to significantly reduce the need for agricultural fields and land in general, and dramatically reduce the amount of energy we invest in growing food every year.

And all that is needed is that you agree to eat bacteria. But for all these good things to happen - you know what? IM ready.

Sources

[1] https://www.lut.fi/web/en/news/-/asset_publisher/lGh4SAywhcPu/content/protein-produced-from-electricity-to-alleviate-world-hunger

[2] https://qz.com/1041621/scientists-in-finland-made-high-tech-food-using-electricity-to-solve-world-hunger/

[3] http://news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat

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