Solving World Hunger With Electricity? Finland Scientists Say Yes
World hunger is a major issue. According to The Hunger Project (www.thp.org), 795 million people do not have enough food to eat. Of those, 98% of them live in developing countries. Breaking this even down further, the continent of Asia has the most undernourished people, with 525.6 million. Sub-saharan Africa comes in second, with 214 million. Latin America and the Caribbean place third, with 37 million.
A group of Finnish scientists at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland believe that their new protein development could lead to solving world hunger with the simplicity of electricity (in the form of renewable energy), water, carbon dioxide, and microbes. This use of electricity for the production of food would benefit areas where farming and raising livestock is impossible, like deserts.
This food that is produced from electricity is a powder-like substance that is made of 50% protein and 25% carbohydrates. It is created by using the method of electrolysis with electricity, water, carbon dioxide, and microbes in a bioreactor. The substance of the food can differ by changing the microbes while in production.
There is no need for fertilizers, pesticides, etc that pose environmental concerns, like with some farming practices. This method of food production can also be done anywhere where renewable energy is available to produce electricity like solar and wind power. The technology can be transported to these undernourished areas so they can produce the food themselves in areas that don’t require proper agricultural conditions such as fertile soil, the correct temperature and humidity, etc.
Although this sounds amazing for locations that don’t have the required conditions for agriculture and raising animals, and for undernourished countries, it’s still in the beginning phases. It takes two weeks for just one gram of this protein to be made using a bioreactor the size of a coffee cup. With that said, it could take up to 10 years to fully produce something more efficient to create this food with the proper technology, and with the required legislation to make this food available commercially.
Even if this electricity-producing food is still ways away from feeding starving people all over the world, it’s definitely a major development, and a game-changer for the production of food for feeding undernourished nations.