American scientists announced that they succeeded in ridding plants of the need for biological photosynthesis, forcing them to produce biomass without sunlight with the help of only artificial feeding. To do this, they used a two-step electrocatalytic process that converts carbon dioxide and water to acetate (CH3COO−) — main component of acetic acid. The acetate introduced into plant organisms allows them to grow normally and produce the basis for food products in the dark. Researchers working at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Delaware published a related article in Nature Food.
The new method could provide a much-needed alternative to growing food for large populations in the face of the looming climate crisis. And while the authors make every effort to emphasize the fact that their method does not require sunlight, they also note that together with renewable solar energy, it can still work even more efficiently. By combining it with using solar panels to generate the electricity needed to power the electrolysis, it can increase the efficiency of converting sunlight into food up to 18 times when compared to some conventional products.
“Using our approach, we sought to come up with a new way of producing food that could overcome the limitations imposed by conventional biological photosynthesis”,— According to a statement from team leader Robert Jinkerson of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of California at including green algae, yeast and fungal mycelium, from which mushrooms are formed. According to their findings, growing yeast using the new method is 18 times more energy efficient than growing it conventionally by extracting sugar from corn. By increasing the efficiency of food production, it will require much less land, which will reduce the negative impact of agriculture on the environment. It will also be possible to grow plants in rather unconventional environments, such as in space, where increased energy efficiency will allow more crew members to be fed at lower costs.
Prepared by: Sergey Daga