Rapid population growth and continuous improvement of the standard of living leads to higher demand of protein especially in the developing countries. Furthermore, the global food security can be endangered by overfishing and lack of arable land, fertilizers and fresh water.
Neo-Carbon food concept offers a way to alleviate world hunger by utilising hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria to produce microbial protein (MP) from renewable electricity, water, air and nutrients. Hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria are capable of autotrophic growth by using hydrogen as an electron donor and oxygen as an electron acceptor to fix carbon dioxide to build up their biomass. Hydrogen and oxygen can be supplied to the bacteria by performing water electrolysis directly in a bioreactor. In addition, some nutrients are required to increase the bacterial biomass. By applying direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 by adsorption/desorption process with in situ water electrolysis, bacterial protein can be produced basically only from electricity, air, water and some nutrients.
The bacterial biomass produced with in situ water electrolysis has high protein content (50-83%), and it can be used as an ingredient in human and animal nutrition. In addition, single cell protein production has higher solar-to-biomass efficiency compared with photosynthesis based production. In situ water electrolysis for protein production may also provide a solution to environmental impacts of conventional agriculture, as the process doesn’t release any nutrients or pollutants to nature and has low water consumption. SCP production is also independent of seasonal changes and has no need for agricultural land.