Finnish startup eyes meatless schnitzel with new lab-made protein

A Finnish tech startup hopes to produce protein out of thin air and not much more, creating a plant-based product it can put into healthy drinks and yogurts or even turn into a meatless schnitzel, the company said.

Solar Foods has received nearly 25 million euros (US$30 million) in government and private funding to commercialize the product called Solein, a yellow flour-type ingredient containing some 65 per cent protein manufactured in a miniature bioreactor inside a laboratory.

The flour is ground from a liquid micro-organism that is made out of carbon dioxide from air, electricity, water, microbes and nutrients.

However, the company faces challenges, said Reetta Kivela, a professor of practice for food innovations at the University of Helsinki.

To make Solein a success, Kivela said, the company needed to make production run on renewable energy, find a sustainable way to produce nitrogen and make the flour more appealing than some other vegetable proteins that often have a grainy texture and can taste bitter.

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