The global population rate is rising year after year. According to the United Nations, we are getting close to reaching a population of 8 billion people. One major concern amongst experts and policymakers is how we’ll be able to feed 8 billion people. Fertile land is limited, and food is expensive to produce. Now, thanks to new developments, we may finally have a viable solution to the global food shortage; artificial photosynthesis.
What Is Artificial Photosynthesis?
By its standard definition, photosynthesis refers to the natural process by which plants can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and sunlight, to produce chemical energy that allows them to grow and thrive. The fruits, vegetables, and other plant matter we consume regularly would not exist without photosynthesis.
When the conditions for natural photosynthesis are not met, plant matter doesn’t grow properly, and food supply targets aren’t met. As climate change worsens, relying on natural photosynthesis to produce our food is getting harder.
Artificial photosynthesis, as the name implies, is an artificial process that simulates the conditions of natural photosynthesis, to provide a controlled environment where plant-based foods can grow and thrive.
How Does Artificial Photosynthesis Work?
In the artificial photosynthesis process, a carbon dioxide electrolyzer produces a compound known as acetate. A carbon dioxide electrolyzer is a mechanical device capable of transforming raw carbon dioxide into molecules such as acetate. You may have already heard of acetate, a chemical compound in several household products, from shampoos to vinegar.
During the artificial photosynthesis process, acetate can be used to produce yeast, fungus, and algae. Now, researchers are confident that acetate and artificial photosynthesis can be used to create various food products, this includes radish, cabbage, peppers, tomato, peas, rice, and lettuce. They found that the artificial photosynthesis process could produce the same amount of food, using just a quarter of the energy when perfected.
What Could Artificial Photosynthesis Mean For The Future?
Artificial photosynthesis could one-day mass produce food faster and more efficiently to feed entire populations worldwide. If the researchers are involved in realizing the true potential of artificial photosynthesis, it could even contribute to eliminating world hunger. The researchers have even hypothesized the role that their artificial photosynthesis process could perhaps play in space colonization. They believe the process could provide the means to sustainably grow food on the moon and on planets where natural Photosynthesis would be impossible.
It’s daunting to think about, but as climate change worsens, there may come a time sooner rather than later when producing enough food to feed everyone through natural means becomes impossible. Will artificial photosynthesis be the solution we need to combat world hunger? Only time will tell.
What Do You Think?
Now that you know so much more about the fascinating discovery of artificial photosynthesis, what do you think? Would you like to try food grown in a lab without natural sunlight and carbon dioxide? Or do you think you’ll always prefer natural food?