Scan Magazine, Issue 131, December 2019

Page 88

The protein from peas, for instance, can be extracted and kneaded into complete meat-like products such as mince and burgers.

What’s for dinner? A bug biscuit, a microalgae muffin, or a plant-based burger – the increasing strain on our planet means that, in the future, we will have to get our protein from less land- and resource-demanding sources. At Danish Technological Institute (DTI), researchers are looking into a host of possible food innovations, from CO2-absorbing microalgae to waste-consuming mealworms. By Signe Hansen  |  Photos: Danish Technological Institute

Mealworm and microalgae might not sound like anyone’s first choice for dinner, but being local, cultivated from food by-products, and full of protein, they are two possible food sources that offer a solution to the three major issues facing the food industry today: the CO2 produced by the meat industry; the amount of land required to meet the continuously growing demand for protein; and the large amount of waste at all stages of the food chain. Rethinking the food processes to transform CO2 and waste into food production and creating new sources of protein can help prevent the serious consequences of continuing business as usual. “It’s a fact that if you source protein through meat, 88  |  Issue 131  |  December 2019

it will take up five times as much space as if you source it from plants directly,” says head of innovation at DTI, Anne Maria Hansen. “But if you are to live on a plant-based diet, you need to think more strategically, because most plants don’t have complete proteins. But microalgae and insects do and, if you combine more plant sources, you can create products that combine the amino acids to create a more balanced profile of protein. DTI is working on doing this with, among other things, peas and beans. These go through different procedures, which extract and knead the protein into complete meat-like products like mince and burgers. The institute is also looking at

cultivating microalgae and insects for food consumption, both products that can be cultivated on side stream products such as CO2 and food waste.

Absorbing CO2 The food and drink industries have numerous side stream products, from the large amount of quickly decomposing spent grain left over in beer production to the biogas created in farm waste. Currently, DTI is experimenting with the cultivation of a type of microalgae, which, as they are cultivated in closed systems exposed to light, can capture and grow on the high amount of CO2 in, for instance, biogas, growing faster the more CO2 is pumped through. “The work with microalgae is completely new, and very much in the start-up phase, but if it can be scaled up, it could have great potential as it’s a plant that absorbs CO2, provides complete proteins and, unlike soya, can be cultivated in Denmark,” explains Hansen. “Of course, we still need to figure out how we can

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