CO2 for Food and Beverage Production

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

CO2 for food and beverage production represents a novel and sustainable approach that utilizes captured carbon dioxide (CO2) to create a variety of food and beverage products. This innovative concept goes beyond simply mitigating CO2 emissions; it transforms this greenhouse gas into a valuable resource, contributing to a circular economy and opening up exciting possibilities for food innovation.

Impact on climate action

Harnessing CO2 for food and beverage production within the C2V framework directly addresses climate action. By repurposing CO2 emissions into valuable resources, it mitigates greenhouse gas levels while fostering sustainable food systems. This innovation reduces carbon footprints and promotes circular economy models, vital steps toward combating climate change.


Several key technologies and concepts drive CO2 utilization in the food and beverage industry:

  • Gas Fermentation: Certain microorganisms, like bacteria and algae, can consume CO2 as a carbon source during fermentation, producing various valuable compounds such as proteins, oils, and flavoring agents.
  • CO2 as a Growth Stimulant: In controlled environments like greenhouses, enriching the atmosphere with CO2 can boost plant growth and yields, enhancing food production efficiency.
  • Carbonation of Beverages: CO2 is commonly used to carbonate beverages, but innovative startups are exploring new methods for capturing and recycling CO2 within the beverage production process, minimizing waste and promoting a circular approach.
  • CO2 Extraction for Food Ingredients: Supercritical CO2 extraction is a green technology used to extract flavors, fragrances, and essential oils from plants without the use of harsh solvents, offering a sustainable and high-quality approach to food ingredient production.

TRL : 4-8 (depending on the specific technology and product)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Precision Fermentation: Advances in synthetic biology and fermentation technology are enabling the development of more efficient and tailored microbial strains for CO2 conversion into specific food ingredients, such as proteins, fats, and vitamins.
  • Vertical Farming Integration: Integrating CO2 capture and utilization systems with vertical farms, which are already highly controlled environments, can optimize CO2 levels for plant growth and create a closed-loop system for resource management.
  • Algae-Based Food Products: Algae, with their high CO2 absorption capacity, are being explored as a sustainable source for various food products, including protein powders, omega-3 fatty acids, and even alternative meat products.
  • Circular Beverage Production: Startups are developing innovative technologies to capture and recycle CO2 within beverage production facilities, minimizing emissions and promoting a more circular and sustainable approach to beverage manufacturing.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Gas Fermentation for Food Production
  • CO2 Enrichment in Controlled Environments
  • Sustainable Carbonation Techniques
  • Supercritical CO2 Extraction Methods
  • Precision Microbial Fermentation
  • Tailored Microbial Strains Development
  • Integration of CO2 Capture in Vertical Farming
  • Closed-Loop Resource Management Systems
  • Utilization of Algae for Protein Production
  • CO2 Recycling in Beverage Manufacturing
  • Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in Beverage Industry
  • Enhanced Plant Growth with CO2 Enrichment
  • CO2-Driven Vertical Farming Systems
  • Sustainable Food Ingredient Production
  • Next-Generation CO2-Utilizing Food Technologies
  • Innovation in CO2 Conversion for Gourmet Goods

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Air Protein:
    • Technology Focus: Air Protein is likely leveraging CO2 as a feedstock for protein production through a process like microbial fermentation or synthetic biology. Their technology might involve using CO2, along with other nutrients and energy sources, to produce sustainable protein alternatives.
    • Uniqueness: Air Protein stands out for its innovative approach to food production, utilizing CO2, a greenhouse gas, as a resource rather than a pollutant. Their process may offer a scalable and environmentally friendly solution to address global food security challenges.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments could include food manufacturers, retailers, and consumers looking for sustainable and nutritious protein sources, as well as industries seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Solar Foods:
    • Technology Focus: Solar Foods is likely developing a technology that converts CO2 into edible proteins using renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. Their process may involve utilizing microorganisms or novel biochemical pathways to produce protein-rich food ingredients.
    • Uniqueness: Solar Foods is unique in its focus on using renewable energy and CO2 as raw materials to produce food. Their approach may offer a sustainable alternative to traditional agriculture, with minimal land and water requirements.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include environmentally conscious consumers, food manufacturers, and organizations looking to invest in sustainable food production technologies.
  • Deep Branch Biotechnology:
    • Technology Focus: Deep Branch Biotechnology likely specializes in converting CO2 into single-cell proteins or other valuable biochemicals using microbial fermentation or bioreactor systems. Their technology may involve optimizing microbial strains or engineering metabolic pathways for efficient CO2 utilization.
    • Uniqueness: Deep Branch Biotechnology could be unique in its focus on using CO2 from industrial sources, such as biogas or flue gas emissions, to produce high-value products for the food and beverage industry. Their process may offer a closed-loop solution for carbon capture and utilization.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments might include food and beverage companies, animal feed manufacturers, and biorefineries seeking sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to traditional protein sources.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Wageningen University & Research:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Wageningen University & Research are developing novel technologies for capturing CO2 emissions from industrial processes and converting them into valuable compounds for food and beverage production. They are exploring advanced catalytic processes and biotechnological approaches to transform CO2 into organic molecules such as carbohydrates, proteins, and flavor compounds.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Wageningen’s approach involves a holistic analysis of the entire food and beverage production chain, from raw material sourcing to product distribution. They are integrating CO2 capture and utilization technologies into existing production processes to create sustainable and circular food systems with reduced carbon footprint.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Wageningen has implications for various sectors of the food and beverage industry, including agriculture, food processing, and beverage manufacturing. By using CO2-derived ingredients, companies can develop healthier and more environmentally friendly products while reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and conventional farming practices.
  • University of California, Berkeley:
    • Technology Enhancements: UC Berkeley researchers are focusing on developing scalable and cost-effective technologies for capturing CO2 emissions from industrial sources and converting them into value-added products for food and beverage applications. They are exploring electrochemical and biocatalytic processes to selectively convert CO2 into high-value compounds such as sugars, amino acids, and vitamins.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Berkeley’s approach involves interdisciplinary collaboration between chemists, engineers, and biologists to design integrated CO2 conversion systems. They are optimizing the performance of catalysts and enzymes to achieve high conversion efficiency and product selectivity under ambient conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The research at UC Berkeley has potential applications in the food and beverage industry, including the production of sustainable ingredients, additives, and flavorings. By utilizing CO2-derived compounds, companies can enhance the nutritional value, taste, and sustainability of their products while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion.
  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at DTU are developing innovative technologies for capturing CO2 emissions from industrial sources and converting them into value-added products for food and beverage production. They are exploring biotechnological and chemical engineering approaches to convert CO2 into bio-based chemicals, fuels, and food ingredients.
    • Uniqueness of Research: DTU’s approach involves a systems-level analysis of CO2 capture, conversion, and utilization processes to identify synergies and optimize resource efficiency. They are integrating renewable energy sources and waste streams into CO2 conversion systems to create sustainable and economically viable solutions.
    • End-use Applications: The research at DTU has implications for the food and beverage industry, including the development of novel ingredients, supplements, and functional foods. By utilizing CO2 as a feedstock, companies can reduce their dependence on finite resources and contribute to the transition towards a circular bioeconomy.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

While large-scale commercial implementation of CO2 utilization in food production is still emerging, some startups are making progress:

  • Solar Foods: Has built a pilot plant and secured partnerships with food companies to integrate Solein into various food products.
  • Air Protein: Is actively developing its technology and seeking partnerships with food manufacturers to bring CO2-derived protein to market.