Most plants have to photosynthesize to grow and develop. However, only about 1% of the energy from sunlight is absorbed by plants. Therefore, scientists at the University of California Riverside (UCR) and the University of Delaware have been working to find a method that eliminates the need for biological photosynthesis of plants, allowing food to be produced without the need for food. sunlight through artificial photosynthesis.
The study was published in the journal Nature Food on June 23. The researchers used an electrocatalytic process to convert CO2, along with electricity and water, into acetate, the main ingredient in vinegar. The plant will then consume the acetate in the dark to grow.
Experts have confirmed that their method does not require sunlight. However, this method can be combined with solar panels to generate the amount of electricity needed to power the electrolysis process. This will result in up to 18 times the efficiency of converting sunlight into food compared to certain foods.
So this new method can use light but is not completely dependent on the energy of the sun, but can use other forms of electricity generation.
The world is suffering the devastating effects of climate change such as droughts, floods and arable land. So by reducing dependence on direct sunlight, artificial photosynthesis will be an important new alternative for future farming.
During the research, the scientists discovered many foods that can be grown in the dark using this method, such as green algae and yeast. Experiments have shown that growing yeast by this method is 18 times more energy efficient than conventional cultivation of sugar extraction from corn.
In addition, they also found that some crops such as cowpeas, tomatoes, rice, green beans, tobacco, were able to grow in the dark by using carbon from acetate even with higher yields.
Is artificial photosynthesis a step towards making it possible for humans to live on other planets ?
“Using artificial photosynthesis for food production could be a major change in the way food is supplied,” said Robert Jinkerson, a member of the research team and an associate professor at the University of California Riverside. Because of high efficiency production, we will need less land and reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment. As for agriculture in non-traditional environment such as space, energy efficiency The increased volume will help feed more astronauts.”