I've quite a few alien species that utilize a non-food-based metabolism (one of them being nuclear power).

Does a species that has a metabolism not based-on plants or meat (such as using nuclear power, solar power, natural gas, etc., instead) still need respiratory gases to saturate their cells? If not, what type of system would and/or should they have?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about systems in general, or specifically nuclear power? $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Sep 25, 2019 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed Systems in general, however, I'm asking about the ones I've specified. Which are nuclear, solar power, and natural gas and hydrocarbons. $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2019 at 5:00
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for accepting my answer. However if you wait at least 24 hours you might get other answers and increase the chances of getting an even better solution. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Sep 25, 2019 at 6:11

1 Answer 1


Respiratory gas is used and needed because it is used by the cell to oxidize chemical species and use the released energy.

If the metabolism of your beings is not based on use of oxidative energy, no respiratory gas is needed.

The above is valid for nuclear energy (they just need to supply new nuclear fuel to their metabolic centers) and solar energy (they need to supply new photoactive species), but not for natural gas and hydrocarbons (bytheway, natural gas is an hydrocarbon): you need to oxidize the hydrocarbon, so you need a gas to do it.


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