A startup converts carbon dioxide into meat with the help of bacteria.
California-based company Air Protein literally creates meat from nothing. The startup, founded in 2019 by physicist Lisa Dyson and materials scientist John Reed, aims to curb climate change.
Air Protein essentially takes carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas responsible for warming the earth, and turns it into a steak or a fillet of salmon. According to Wired, the process is similar to how yogurt is made — using live cultures.
How does CO2 become meat?
The startup “cultures hydrogenotrophic microbes in fermentation tanks and feeds them a mixture of carbon dioxide, oxygen, minerals, water and nitrogen.” The result? A high-protein flour that has an amino acid profile similar to meat protein.
Dyson told Wired they use culinary techniques “that give you the different textures you’re looking for.” This includes assessing pressure, temperature and cooking techniques.
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The process is completely carbon negative, but uses carbon dioxide to make the protein. After all, Air Protein wants to use plants to extract CO2 from the air. Compared to beef, the process requires 1.5 million times less land and reduces water use by 15,000 times compared to beef.
The company was formed after uncovering forgotten NASA research from the 1960s. One of these, from 1967, wanted to explore ways to feed astronauts on long space voyages. One of the proposed methods was to combine microbes with CO2 exhaled by astronauts to create food.
“We picked up where they left off,” Dyson told Wired.
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Browne, G. (2022, February 14). This startup tries to make juicy steaks out of nothing. WIRED UK.