While plant-based products brought to the market by startups such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods or Just use plants for their source of proteins, one can wonder if there are other ways to produce the necessary proteins. One process is getting traction: production proteins from the carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen naturally present in the air.
This output is a protein powder that can be supplemented and then transformed into food products such as meat replicates. This week, Air Protein, a US-based startup made a public demonstration of its product (the meat of the plate in the picture below).
As explained in the graph below (taken from Solar Foods, one of the initiators of this market), the process is not magical and requires some natural resources such as water and electricity. Additionally, to transform the capture of carbon dioxide, nutrients and vitamins have to be added.
This, in turn, does not tell how the product will be received on a regulatory level. Here, the approach fo Deep Branch Technologies is interesting, they target the fish feed market rather than the human protein market. We can compare this approach to insect protein startups. While human-oriented products received the buzz, it is clearly the more discreet animal feed companies (such as Ynsect and Innovafeed) that have developed the most. Finally, on an ecological level, the promise of reducing the amounts of pollutants created by the industry is clearly appealing and can only motive further investments in this area.
Three startups to follow :
Air Protein, US-based startup which has produced some “meat” made from air-based proteins
Deep branch technologies, a UK-based startup working with polluters to transform the carbon dioxide into fish food
Solar Foods, a Finish startup, working into transforming air into proteins and which has already raised $2.8m