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Meat out of CO2 in the air

Air Protein introduces world’s first air-based food

It sounds like a magic trick…the magician pulls a quarter from behind your ear, seemingly out of thin air. So is it magic? Or is it just a bunch of hot air? We are told to chew with our mouths closed, not just because it’s proper manners, but because it ensures you don’t swallow air that makes you…well…burp, bloat, and ahem fart. But now we will be eating air. Literally, air-based food.

In California, Air Protein is innovating beyond plant-based meat and into air-based meat. Watch out Impossible Foods and Beyond Burger – a new protein alternative is in town!

Air Protein created the first air-based meat created from elements found in the air we breathe. The new air-based meat substance can be used to make burgers, chicken, turkey or virtually any meat product you want it to be, or even use it to make protein-enriched pastas, cereals and beverages.

For the environmentalists out there, Air Protein is establishing a new industry of sustainable food that solves growing global food demands without the need for arable land. Yes, meat with no land needed. The air-based protein is produced without the traditional land, water and weather requirements. This marks the first time in history air-based meat has been created.

“By transforming elements of the air we breathe into protein, this will revolutionize how we approach food production in the future,” according to their press release. “The United Nation Food and Agricultural Foundation (FAO) predicts farmers will need to increase food production by 70% with only 5% land increase to meet the expected growing population of 10B people by 2050. Air-based meat offers an elegant solution to that equation. The technology to produce the protein found in air-based meat allows for protein to be made in a matter of days instead of months, and independently of weather conditions or seasons. The process is similar to making yogurt or beer and requires just a tiny fraction of the land used in traditional meat production.”

“The statistics are clear. Our current resources are under extreme strain as evidenced by the burning Amazon due to deforestation and steadily increasing droughts. We need to produce more food with a reduced dependency on land and water resources. Air-based meat addresses these resource issues and more,” says Air Protein CEO, Dr. Lisa Dyson. “The world is embracing plant-based meat and we believe air-based meat is the next evolution of the sustainably-produced food movement that will serve as one of the solutions to feeding a growing population without putting a strain on natural resources.”

Will Mikey like it?

Ok, so it’s great for the planet, but are there any nutrients in it? I mean, really, it’s air, right? And even if it is nutritious, how will it taste? Will Mikey like it like the cereal commercial or will he think it’s a bunch of hot air?

“The process to create this new form of protein uses elements found in the air and is combined with water and mineral nutrients. It uses renewable energy and a probiotic production process to convert the elements into a nutrient-rich protein with the same amino acid profile as an animal protein and packed with crucial B vitamins, which are often deficient in a vegan diet.”

Great! So it’s good for us! It has an amino acid profile comparable to meat protein, according to their press release, so it definitely shows promise as a meat alternative. And it’s a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.

And NASA inspired it so it can’t taste that bad, right? “Air Protein leverages carbon transformation technology developed by Kiverdi, which was inspired by NASA’s closed loop carbon cycle concepts for long-journey space missions. The protein found in air-based meat is produced using natural processes, and made completely free of any use of pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics.”

From feeding astronauts to feeding earthlings

NASA – we know NASA is awesome and has moved us into dimensions and places we never thought of…but did you know the inspiration behind Air Protein began in the 1960’s, with NASA, on a quest for deep space travel?

According to Air Protein, “The scientists of NASA, challenged with how to produce food for a year-long mission with limited space and resources, soon discovered a special class of microbes. These natural single-cell organisms, specifically, called hydrogenotrophs, act like plants in converting carbon dioxide into food. The concept was simple. Astronauts would exhale CO2, which would be captured by the microbes, then converted, with other inputs such as power and water, into food, which would feed the astronauts. Then these astronauts would exhale CO2, further enabling the hydrogenotrophs to continue producing an endless cycle of nutrients.”

Behind the Scenes – Kiverdi

Kiverdi is the company behind the technology – it’s a sister company of Air Protein and has a history of using CO2 to make things like plastics and soil. We covered them back in 2015 here in Biofuels Digest’s 5-Minute Guide.

You can watch Kiverdi CEO, Dr. Lisa Dyson, the physicist brains behind it all, on the TED Stage here where she shares her vision for a sustainable future with Air Protein. She was named one of the “Most Creative People in 2017” by Fast Company.

If that isn’t enough to inspire you, check out the latest on some of the other meat alternatives that are commercially available (Air Protein is not commercially available yet, so you’ll just have to ‘hold your breath’ a little bit longer).

Impossible Foods doing the possible

It’s easier than ever to get your hands on the Impossible whatever…burger, sausage, ground beef, etc. They are now in over 15,000 restaurants and over 100 grocery stores and aren’t stopping there. In case you missed it, Impossible Foods won the UN Global Climate Action Award at Climate Week in NYC recently. The Impossible Whopper got a shout-out from South Park. The Impossible Burger appeared on a New York Times list of six top plant-based burgers. A Hawaiian convenience store chain (Minit Stop) replaced all beef from cows with Impossible Burger. Pat Brown, Founder and CEO released their 2019 Impact statement recently too.

The Digest reported the amazing news that Impossible Foods raised a $300 million in its Series E round back in June. In September, The Digest reported that Impossible Foods was going to launch products in U.S. grocery stores making it available to home consumers.

Beyond their wildest dreams

The Beyond Burger arrived as “the world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef, without GMOs, soy, or gluten, and has become a global sensation,” and their aim to “create The Future of Protein” is certainly making a shift for many from animal, to plant-based meat.” What’s the latest in the technology, the deployment, the prospects, the commercial models and the source of BM’s appeal? Check out The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Beyond Meat and alternatives to traditional meat products here.

Earlier this month, The Digest reported that the Beyond Sausage sandwich expanded nationwide at Dunkin’ two months ahead of their original launch schedule and after a hugely successful launch in New York City.

As reported in The Digest in May, Beyond Meat Inc. raised $241 million in its initial public offering after pricing its shares at the top end of an elevated price range. Beyond Meat priced its IPO at $25 per share and raised an estimated $241 million, disclosing in an SEC filing that it expects to sell 9.63 million shares at the top end of its projected $23-$25 range. As reported in The Digest in June, Del Taco adds Beyond Burritos after Beyond Taco sales hit 2MM mark.

Bottom Line

What began as meat alternatives with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, mostly at restaurants and now at grocery stores reaching consumers at home and making it more widely available, is now bursting forth like a storm, but will it become a ‘new norm’? Like the first cell phone…so cool when a few people had one but then everyone had a cell phone and it just became the norm. Sure it lost some of it’s newness and coolness, but people still buy them like crazy and the cell phone business isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So perhaps Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and eventually once they commercialize Air Protein and make it available to consumers, will become like cell phones. You’ll see them in almost every household and people no longer will give you strange looks when you serve up meat alternatives. So while you can’t yet serve up some Air Protein at your Thanksgiving table this week, it will make some great dinner conversation.

Helena Tavares Kennedy

IBC Finland ry
c/o Clic Innovation Ltd
Eteläranta 10, 5th floor
FI-00130 Helsinki

IBC Finland builds novel biotechnology solutions and products through project cooperation between companies and research institutes. We offer industry the opportunity to achieve sustainable processing and production of biobased products, chemicals, materials and fuels, from renewable raw materials using biotechnology.

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