Artificial photosynthesis could support energy efficient food production- Study

By Sakina Raj  | Date: 2022-06-27

Artificial photosynthesis could support energy efficient food production- Study

Researchers have reportedly discovered an alternate way to produce energy-efficient food using artificial photosynthesis. The study was issued in the journal Nature Food.

Under the study, scientists used a two-step process of electrocatalysis to convert electricity, water, and carbon dioxide into acetate, the form of vinegar’s main component. This acetate is then consumed by food-producing organisms in the dark to grow.

This organic-inorganic system, along with solar panels to produce electricity, could increase the sunlight to food conversion efficiency by 18 times for some foods.

Robert Jinkerson, corresponding author and Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside, commented that the new approach allows food production without the necessity of biological photosynthesis.

To merge all the system components, the electrolyzer output was maximized to bolster the growth of organisms producing food. It was reported that there was a rise in the amount of acetate produced with a reduction in the amount of salt used. This produced the highest levels of acetate in an electrolyzer to date.

Corresponding author Feng Jiao remarked that the new electrolysis setup enables researchers to achieve high acetate selectivity that was inaccessible through traditional routes of CO2 electrolysis.

Many experiments showed that a variety of food-producing organisms can be directly grown in the dark on the acetate-rich output of the electrolyzer. This includes yeast, mushroom-producing fungal mycelium, and green algae.

This technology produced algae that is four times more energy-efficient than the ones grown photosynthetically. On the other hand, the production of yeast is 18 times more energy-efficient than its typical production method using corn-extracted sugar.

Researchers also tested the potential for implementing this technology to cultivate crop plants. Tomato, cowpea, rice, tobacco, green pea, and canola used carbon from acetate while growing in the dark.

Artificial photosynthesis opens many avenues for growing food under tumultuous conditions imposed due to climate change. It will now be possible to grow crops in cities unsuitable for growing food and might provide food for future space explorations.

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Sakina Raj

Sakina Raj

Armed with a degree in English Literature, Sakina chose to explore the world of content writing and pursue it as a career. Sakina has been playing with words for over five years now and currently pens down articles relating to diverse domains for BonafideNews and vari...

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