Our Research Approach
food4future specifically links various key technologies to establish alternative nutrient production systems: (UV) LEDs and innovative composite lightweight materials are used to develop modular and multifunctional compartments in urban environments. These "urban bio spaces" are used to cultivate four types of organisms in saline environments to serve as a resource for human nutrition. Macroalgae, halophytes (salt-tolerant plants), medusae (jellyfish) and crickets are used for sustainable biomass production in closed systems. They are specifically optimized in their nutrient composition by specific UV exposure. In addition to individual cultivation, joint cultivation (co-cultivation) of different organisms is also being researched on, which enables resource-saving cascade utilization of the raw materials used.
The individual nutritional status of consumers is recorded by non-invasive sensors, which is integrated into a health app with the help of machine learning (artificial intelligence) and linked to nutritional suggestions based on personal needs.
Societal impacts of the two extreme scenarios on the nutritional system will be analyzed. Due to the interaction of "No Land" and "No Trade", the extreme disruption in the production of nutrients itself becomes a transformation impulse. food4future also considers the endogenously caused changes in the nutritional system and in their associated social structures, whose characteristics will further shape nutrition and social interaction.
food4future brings together experts from a broad scientific spectrum. They work in four research fields on the projects of the research network. The scientists of the research fields closely exchange information, both inter- and intradisciplinary. All relevant target groups - from food producers to consumers - are included in a holistic approach.
In the Research Field I Organisms, closed saline rearing and production systems for marine and terrestrial organisms are developed. Macroalgae, halophytes (salt plants), jellyfish and crickets, which have been little used as healthy alternatives for human nutrition, serve as model organisms. Starting individually, these organisms will then be cultivated sustainably together in various combinations.
The Research Field II Urban Bio Spaces is developing "urban bio spaces” made of innovative polymer-based composite materials, i.e. fiber-reinforced plastics, into which (UV) LED lights are integrated. These flexible bioreactors can be used in various urban contexts for the four food4future model organisms in the future without competing for the use of scarce urban living space.
In the Research Field III Smart Nutrition & Sensor Technology, the health and nutrition parameters of subjects are recorded with the help of sensors in studies. These are then also used for a nutrition intervention with protein-rich foods. Suggestions for dietary scenarios will then be elaborated and a mobile health app will be developed with the collected data using artificial intelligence. The app will provide users with suggestions for optimal nutrition based on their individual nutritional status.
The Research Field IV Social Science Analysis deals with the possible consequences of the "No Land" and "No Trade" scenarios for our society, institutions and individuals. For example, the consequences for German agricultural production or tipping points with regard to the institutional development for aquatic food are analyzed. Behavioral economics experiments are used to examine consumer nutritional choices and societal impacts due to new diets. The cultural technique of eating and nutrition is explored ethnographically and experimentally, and the participatory involvement of the public in research projects is considered.
The transfer of food4future innovations is supported and future options for "future food" are identified and evaluated during the project.