California Start-Up Wants to Create “Air-Based Meat”

Just a week after Brooklyn-based startup Air Co. unveiled its carbon-negative, air-based vodka, a California start-up announced a new type of “meatless meat” made from air.

Appropriately named Air Protein, the Bay Area company allegedly used technology developed by NASA, to transform carbon dioxide (CO2) into protein, the same way plants do. During the 1960’s, the U.S. space agency started looking for a way to feed astronauts on a year-long mission by relying on the one resource its crew produced in abundance – CO2. During their research, scientists discovered a class of microbes called hydrogenotrophs able to convert carbon dioxide into protein. The resulting powder could be used to create pastas and shakes, but Air Protein now wants to use it to create a meat alternative.

Photo: Air Protein

“We need to produce more food with a reduced dependency on land and water resources. Air-based meat addresses these resource issues and more,” Air Protein CEO, Lisa Dyson, said. “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.”

The California-based startup reportedly perfected the process developed by NASA scientists to the point where the CO2-based protein can be created in “hours, not months”, in fermentation tanks filled with carbon dioxide and various other nutrients.

Photo: Air Protein

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard about the Impossible Burger – a vegetable patty that tastes just like meat. Well, the people behind Air Protein hope to develop an even better alternative to meat, as their product would be entirely free from pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics. No word on flavor though, something that could make or break it. We’ll find out next year, when the company hopes to launch a commercial version.

Interestingly, the sector of air-based proteins is already pretty competitive, with companies like Solar Foods having already announced their own innovative products, like a protein-rich food called Solein made from electricity, water and air.