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Plants can be grown without light

Plants can be grown without light

We all know that plants need light (even artificial light) to grow. Under its influence, photosynthesis occurs, that is, a process in which sugars are formed from carbon dioxide and water.

Unfortunately, this is a very ineffective process. Plants use only 1% of the sun’s energy. Scientists It was possible to increase the efficiency of this process to 8%. At the same time, they did it As plants grew in complete darkness.

How is this possible? They supplied plants with acetate (salts or esters of acetic acid), which are an important intermediate in photosynthesis. Thanks to this, plants do not have to start all photosynthesis from scratch, using carbon dioxide and water – they start working after a few steps.

The acetate on which plants were grown was also derived from carbon dioxide and water – but made in a solar-powered chemical reactor. briefly Much of the photosynthesis process was done by an artificial system – but with eight times higher efficiency Of natural.

It’s as if instead of sending us to the bazaar to get some produce for dinner, someone suggested peeled potatoes and a broken cutlet that just needed to be cooked and fried. We will save a lot of time and energy.

Researchers from the University of California at Riverside and the University of Delaware tested this method on several crops: tobacco, green peas, tomatoes and rice. In a research paper published in Nature Food, they enumerate this process for some plants Up to 18 times more efficient than growing in the soil and in the sun.

This is an enormous achievement.

The same yield per hectare of soil will be produced on an area 10 times smaller. And if the plants will be grown in floors, on the shelves (remember that they no longer need light) even twenty times smaller. Five hundred square meters will be needed instead of a hectare.

Freeing cultivation from the sun opens up a myriad of other possibilities. Crops are no longer dependent on the vagaries of weather, soil quality and the amount of available surface. And if food could be grown in a small area instead of vast and remote fields, supply chains and long transportation were no longer necessary.

All this matters on Earth – more than half of the planet’s population actually lives in cities – and during space flights. No wonder the researchers discovered He also won the first stage of the NASA “Deep Space Food Challenge” competition..

So far, no one has tried tomatoes or rice grown this way. Are plants grown in the dark tasty? hard to say. We’ll likely find out soon.

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