Fungi, Mushrooms & Mycelium

Mycorena Receives Funding From European Space Agency to Develop Food for Space Missions

Swedish mycoprotein producer Mycorena has received funding from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Discovery Programme, in recognition of its products’ potential for use on long-distance space missions.

Mycoprotein is sustainable, rich in essential nutrients, and said to support muscle health and overall wellbeing. Furthermore, it can be produced in a closed-circuit system using byproducts and sidestreams generated during space travel. According to Moritz Fontaine, Discovery & Preparation Officer at ESA, this idea to optimize resource efficiency is “highly interesting for space applications”.

The system could also have psychological benefits, providing astronauts with a familiar meat-like texture rather than the “tasteless paste” currently offered on space missions. An initial prototype of the system was one of the winners of Phase 2 of NASA’s 2023 Deep Space Food Challenge, and the new funding will allow Mycorena to further develop the concept.

To achieve this, Mycorena has partnered with French microalgae experts AlgoSolis. The collaboration will work to optimize the use of microalgae as a substrate for fungi growth and refine the production process. 3D-printed food products will then be developed and evaluated.

3D-printable mycoprotein
© Revo Foods/Mycorena

“Huge validation”

This will not be the first time Mycorena has developed 3D-printed products — the company previously partnered with Austria’s Revo Foods to launch a 3D-printed, mycoprotein-based salmon alternative.

In the past year, Mycorena has also announced a collaboration with conventional meat producer Atria Sweden to launch a new range of meat alternatives. Additionally, the company has developed a clean-label fungi-based fat that mimics the behaviour and sensory qualities of animal fat.

“This project will focus on developing the prototype we designed during NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge,” says Carlos Núñez Otero, PhD Scientist and Technical Lead of the new Mycorena project. “It is an important step for us to have been selected by the European Space Agency in their Early Technology Development program, and a huge validation for our efforts to develop resource-efficient processes that have a high potential for applications both in space exploration and in terrestrial food production.”

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