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Deep-space food production based on single-cell protein production by means of gas fermentation



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
Implementation progress
19 January 2023

Duration: 18 months


Future human exploration missions beyond Low Earth Orbit will result in unprecedented constraints on the supply and re-supply of food to meet the energy requirements of the crew. For very long missions (with no opportunity to pre-deploy food depots or re-supply from Earth), it may be impractical or even impossible to launch and store all the food required with the crew and alternative approaches will be required.

Solar Foods uses gas fermentation technology to produce single-cell protein called Solein®. Its production disconnects food production from agriculture, i.e. from fertile land use and photosynthesis. No agricultural inputs are needed as raw materials either. Main ingredients are CO2 and H2. Solein is a naturally occurring hydrogen oxidising bacteria that is nutritionally close to dried soy and meat. It is a powder that can be integrated into meals to provide animal like nutrition including many vitamins (B, A) and micronutrients. Also it can be used in the growth media for cultivated meat production through or patented platform. Solein is approximately 65% protein, 8% fat, 15% dietary fibres and 5% minerals. It is a complete protein with excellent digestibility and functionality.

In gas fermentation closed loop system no waste products are grown, unlike in the case of plants where there are large proportion of non-edible parts. No tillage or soil maintaining is needed. The method is highly promising candidate for food production system for human space exploration, and has the potential for Salt and nitrogen recovery through waste management, enabling a closed nutrient loop.

The purpose of the project is to carry out a feasibility study as the initial step towards a technology demonstrator of a space-borne food factory. Video about the concept is here:, and a Space concept is shown here

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Deep-space food production based on single-cell protein production by means of gas fermentation