A Bay Area company is claiming to have developed a meat analogue made from protein derived from air.
Air Protein, based in Pleasanton, Calif., has announced that it has synthesized meat made from protein generated by microorganisms fed nothing more than atmospheric carbon dioxide. The organisms, called hydrogenotrophs, produce a protein-based powder that Air Protein can constitute into a meat-like product.
This use of hydrogenotrophs has been studied since the 1960s, when NASA became interested in it as a potential source of food in outer space. Air Protein’s founder, Lisa Dyson, who has a doctorate in physics from MIT, reasoned that Earth, with its limited resources and need to recycle carbon dioxide, is like a giant spaceship.
Food from CO2-fed microbes is being studied by other companies, for applications like feed for farmed fish and other animals. But Air Protein is believed to be the first outfit to develop the process for human food.
Dyson told the San Francisco Chronicle that possible applications include protein flour for products like pasta, cereal and bars. She said products and distribution plans will be announced next year.