World Hunger's Days Are Numbered, Scientists Have Created Food From The Most Unlikely Source!
People in the world are dying from hunger every day, too bad we can't whip up some food from out of thin air... or can we? Scientists from teams at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland put their heads together and have a definite answer for us.
#1 People are starving, but what does that actually mean?
You know there are people starving to death in the world. Turn on a television and you'll see the commercials. Chances are you've heard or even said this phrase to a child you know; "Be grateful for the food you're eating, people are starving in the world." What you don't know is that there are two different types of hunger in the world. The first and most important is protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). It boils down to a lack of calories and protein. The second is type of malnutrition, also very important, is micro-nutrient (vitamin and mineral) deficiency. When the subject of world hunger comes up it's almost always the protein-energy malnutrition that is being addressed.
Interestingly enough, as you can see in the handy-dandy chart above, the world actually does produce enough traditional food sources to feed everyone currently in the world. Yet, World Hunger still exists due to poverty. People just don't have the money or land to feed themselves. It's an evil loop there. It takes space and materials to actually have food. That's where these scientists come in.
#2 The Food From Electricity study was born!
Funded by the Academy of Finland, the Food from Electricity study was formed from the collaborations of researchers at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). These amazing scientists saw a problem and the solution, right in front of them and are rising to the challenge.
Jero Ahola of LUT, seen above, and Juha-Pekka Pitkänen of VTT have spoken with the media on the results of the project. Here's what they've come up with.
#3 It's in the air.
That's right. The food, especially the protein, that the world needs is right in front of us. Now, the air is made up of a ton of different gasses and microbes, the specific gas they are talking about is carbon dioxide. It's the same gas that plants use in the photosynthesis. In fact, the researchers imply the process of creating food from electricity can be nearly 10 times as energy efficient as photosynthesis.
Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Principal Scientist at VTT had this to add. "In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine. One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance that the consumer can use to produce the needed protein."
#4 How did they do it?
Well, first let's take a look at the ingredients they need to pull this off: electricity, water, carbon dioxide, and microbes. Yes, microbes, those little itty-bitty organisms that you can't see with your naked eye and are literally everywhere. The researchers used renewable energy (solar, wind powered, hydro, etc) to power their bioreactor. You can see the simplified diagram of the reactor, below.