A Company in California Is Making “Meat” out of Air

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The idea to make food from air comes courtesy of NASA, who wondered during the early days of space slight whether they could take exhaled carbon dioxide and turn it into food that could sustain astronauts during a long voyage.

It never quite became a reality in space, but now a California-based company is revamping the principle to produce animal-free meat products.


If it worked, the sustainable form of meat could help address issues like feeding a constantly growing population and the strain on farming resources, not to mention the treatment of animals raised for slaughter and the negative effects on the environment. Plus, pulling CO2 out of the air could potentially be beneficial in fighting climate change.

Enter Air Protein, a probiotic production process that converts carbon dioxide into a protein substance using microbes. The “protein substance” has the same amino acid profile as an animal protein.

The microbes, called hydrogenotrophs, grow inside fermentation tanks. They eat carbon dioxide, water and other nutrients and produce a brown-colored “flour” that is 80% protein and has a “neutral” taste. It can then be blended with other ingredients to create meat substitutes.


CEO Lisa Dyson is excited about the potential.

“The statistics are clear. Our current resources are under extreme strain as evidenced by the burning Amazon due to deforestation and steadily increasing droughts. We need to produce more food with a reduced dependency on land and water resources. Air-based meat addresses these resource issues and more.”

Right now, animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than the entire global transport sector, which is one reason so many plant-based alternatives have started to be offered and consumed. There’s potential for trouble with those options, too, as deforestation to make room for crops comes with its own negative environmental impact.


This air protein doesn’t require plants or animals, it’s not sprayed with pesticides, and it can be produced in a matter of hours – all of which kind of makes it sound like the perfect food.

Of course, I still haven’t tasted it. But I’ll go out on a limb and say I bet we’ll all have our chance to do that in the not-too-distant future.