Lisa Dyson air protein

California-based startup Air Protein has created a fake meat alternative apparently made from thin air.

It is made from renewable energy, water, and microbes that turn recycled carbon dioxide (CO2) into protein. 

Air protein was founded by a scientist called Lisa Dyson who claimed that her stated aim was to help tackle climate change. 

She based the technology on research carried out by NASA in the 1960s, which explored ways to feed astronauts that embarked on voyages to Mars. It put forward the proposal of making food by combining microbes with the CO2 that the astronauts were breathing out, but NASA never implemented the idea.

In an interview published by CNN Dyson said: “We are leveraging those initial concepts NASA had and picking them up off the shelf.”

The actual process used to create the fake meat is reported to be similar to that used to make cheese or yogurt. However, rather than feeding sugar or milk to the microbe cultures, CO2, nitrogen, and oxygen are instead mixed in large fermentation tanks where the culture produces proteins within hours. 

Once this process is complete, the proteins are harvested, dried, and made into flour which is then used to make the fake meat. Flavourings, seasonings, and other chemicals are then added to the mixture to make it taste like meat. 

Air protein is one of many companies that are creating meat alternatives from Carbon Monoxide. Another company making meat from air includes Solar Foods, a company based in Finland. 

In the future, Air Protein plans to use direct air capture units to remove CO2 directly from the air. 

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