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Solar Foods revolutionizes food with Solein, the protein of the future.

© Marie Fontaine -

Food production accounts for approximately 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Farming, breeding, processing, transportation and distribution are all links in the food chain that contribute to this significant carbon footprint.

Finnish company Solar Foods has developed a major innovation in the field of food: a protein called Solein. This substance could well transform the way we produce and consume proteins, and thus revolutionize the agri-food sector.

Solein is a protein that is made from CO2, air and electricity - which means that production is completely disconnected from agriculture.

Bioréacteur Solar Foods pour la production de Solein
A Solar Foods bioreactor for producing Solein - Credit: Solar Foods

The technology behind Solein is based on aerobic fermentation, which means that microorganisms are able to grow in the presence of oxygen.

It's a process similar to the one developed by NASA to create sustainable, self-sustaining food sources in space.

Researchers grow bacteria in labs by feeding them carbon dioxide, hydrogen bubbles and several nutrients.

By activating these bacteria, they produce proteins that scientists can then extract and dehydrate to obtain a very rich protein powder. This powder can contain up to 70% protein. In addition, its fat content is limited to about 8%, while the proportion of fiber can reach up to 15%.

Solar panels play a key role in this process by providing the energy needed to power the equipment, control the temperature and produce the hydrogen essential to the growth of the micro-organisms.

This production method has several advantages.

It is less dependent on climatic conditions than traditional agriculture, significantly reduces water and energy consumption, and generates fewer greenhouse gases.

In addition, Solein can be produced locally, which reduces the costs and environmental impact of transportation.

It is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids for the human body. It can be used as an ingredient in a wide variety of food products, such as meat substitutes, protein shakes, energy bars, or even pasta and bread.

The protein could also be used in animal feed, reducing dependence on soy and corn production.

Credit: Solar Foods
Credit: Solar Foods

This protein will be marketed in Singapore starting in 2024, with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) granting the first food regulatory approval for the protein in September 2022.

Solar Foods hopes to obtain further approvals in other markets around the world.

Their factory, located in Vantaa, Finland, is the company's first commercial production facility and will begin producing Solein in 2024.

Solar Foods is ushering in a new era in food, drawing inspiration from the stars. This environmentally friendly and sustainable protein has the potential to reshape our food system while preserving our planet.


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