What do they use? Electricity to capture water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and trace minerals from the air. Thus they produce a rich glucose-based material. On top of this, they can produce microbial food products. This would be the food produced from the air.
It is funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It supports the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at Johns Hopkins University. “Yes, our goal is to create food out of nothing,” said in a statement Collin Timm. He is a chemical and biological engineer at APL. “It would be a revolutionary capability to be able to produce food on demand in any environment.”
APL’s approach, is called REPLICATE. It involves a leap forward in on-demand food production. Feedstock refers to what is used as a fuel or energy product. For example, crude oil is a feedstock used to create gasoline. Corn is used to produce ethanol. Soybean oil is used to produce biodiesel.
“We will generate a rich, central feedstock from the components of the air,” explained APL’s William Stone. It will capture carbon dioxide from the air and reduce it to simple organic molecules. Those products, in turn, will be converted into sugars.
“We will extract as many of the nutrients from the air as possible that microbes need to produce food. We will even capture dust and other particles. That’s how we get iron and magnesium.”
Taste of the air
The team is also focusing on another important part of the dining experience: flavor. “We are trying to genetically modify the production of flavor components.” They are looking for nutritious and tasty microbes to process into food formats. North Carolina State University is developingA novel technologies for engineering diverse organisms. “We want a nutritionally complete and tasty meal replacement shake,” Gleason added.
Not only that. Expect to manufacture a housing system that could fit in the back of a truck. Deployed troops could use to make nutritious and palatable food in remote locations. Food produced from the air would eliminate many logistical barriers.