Although photosynthesis is one of nature's greatest superpowers, it's also surprisingly inefficient. Only 1% of the sunlight's energy makes it into the plant.

A press release from the University of Delaware and UC Riverside reveals that scientists have discovered a way to avoid the need for biological photosynthesis Instead, they can create food without sunlight using artificial photosynthesis.

Researchers published their findings in Nature Food. They used an electrocatalytic two-step process to convert electricity, carbon dioxide, and water into acetate, which is the main component of vinegar.

The acetate was then applied to the food-producing organisms under dark conditions, which caused them to grow. This could be a viable alternative to food production in the face of a severe climate crisis.

Artificial photosynthesis: Growing food without sunlight Although the UC Riverside researchers emphasize that their method does not require sunlight, they also point out how it can be used in conjunction with renewable solar energy. 

They also mentioned that they could combine their method and solar panels to produce the electricity needed to power electrolysis. This would improve the efficiency of sunlight to produce food up to 18x more than some foods.

This means that the method can be used by sunlight. However, it is not dependent on the Sun's energy and can function with other forms of electricity generation.

In the statement, Robert Jinkerson (UC Riverside assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering) stated that his approach was to find a new way to produce food that would break the biological photosynthesis limits.

The scientists discovered that many foods could be grown in darkness using their method. This includes green algae, yeast, and fungal mycelium, which can produce mushrooms. 

In addition, their findings show that growing yeast with their method is 18x more energy-efficient than the traditional way of cultivating it by using sugar from corn.

"We were able to grow food-producing organisms with no biological photosynthesis. These organisms are typically grown on sugars from plants or petroleum inputs. 

"This technology is more efficient than food production that relies upon biological photosynthesis to turn solar energy into food," stated Elizabeth Hann, a Jinkerson Lab doctoral candidate, and co-lead author.

Researchers also discovered that many crop plants, including tomatoes, cowpeas, rice, green peas, and tobacco, can be grown in darkness using carbon from acetate. 

So, even though more research is needed, acetate could increase crop yields.

Artificial photosynthesis, according to researchers, could be an alternative for food growth as the world adjusts to climate change's worst effects, including floods and droughts.