Making protein with electricity and carbon dioxide is neat and all, but what about fat?
A group of chemists from the Swedish research organization RISE recently developed a method to do just that, only unlike the new crop of startups that make protein through a biological process using electricity as an energy source for hydrogen or methane-eating bacteria, this fat-making innovation the group terms ‘Power to Food’ does it completely through chemistry.
“We have no biology, it’s just chemistry,” said Anders Lorén, a researcher and chemist for RISE who conceived of the concept. “We believe that scalability is worse in a biological system.”
To convert the CO2 into fat, the Power to Food method essentially recreates a process that already happens in nature using chemistry.
“You can think of this as electrical photosynthesis,” said Marcus Vestergren, the other researcher on the project. “Nature does this, they take carbon dioxide and water and make energy carriers. We emulate it with electrochemistry.”
The researchers believe this process could be highly scalable and could ultimately produce enough fat to replace a significant amount of palm-oil production. They envision production plants for electricity-derived fat using carbon outputs from large producers such as oil refineries or paper mills.
“Instead of retrieving palm oil from a plantation using shredded rainforest, we could produce the fat on a limited area on a large scale with minimal impact on the planet,” says Marcus Vestergren.
You can read more about the Power to Food breakthrough by RISE at AGFO.