A joint project between Lappeenranta University of Technology and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has produced a protein which is edible and nutritious enough to be used in cooking and as a livestock feed from just electricity, carbon dioxide and water with the help of microbes.

According to the researchers, the process of creating food from electricity can be nearly ten times as energy-efficient as common photosynthesis and it does not require any special conditions of temperature, humidity or soil.

All of the raw materials to produce the protein are available in the air. So, it can be produced anywhere that there is a source of electricity. The researchers envisage the necessary equipment being transported to areas of famine although it could be developed as a home appliance allowing consumers to produce the protein at home as needed. Another potential use for animal fodder, releasing agricultural land for other uses.

Currently, the production of one gram of protein takes around two weeks, using laboratory equipment that is about the size of a coffee cup. The next step for the researchers is to begin pilot production with the material being produced in quantities sufficient for testing as fodder and for food products.