So I've created this planet that's about 90% the size of Earth, orbits a binary yellow dwarf star and has an extremely electrified atmosphere. Cloud plumes coming from volcanoes contain various conducting compounds, resulting in huge lightning storms which occur almost every night globally.

This planet's equivalent to plants - phytids - use the electricity in much the same way that our own plants use light, in a process called electrosynthesis. My question is: what sort of biology would these phytids have that could allow them to convert electricity into energy for growth and reproduction?

They have long, rigid spires made mostly of copper-based proteins which face upwards into the air to conduct this electrical energy into their bodies, but that's about all I know. What would they need to do with the electricity once it was inside of them?


2 Answers 2


Why would you 'produce energy' from electricity? IT IS ENERGY. Likely they would utilize as much as possible in it's native form. The human body uses electric impulses all to pass information back and forth throughout the body.

Adding in capacitors to hold this energy would be fairly important, it would be kind of like the fat cells in animals or sugars in plants. So plants and animals need energy to grow (and move). The growing is generally all chemical changes powered by chemical reactions from chemical energy sources. Electrochemistry would be huge in this planet.

I think a lot more plants and animals would be utilizing aluminum in their make up since with all the 'free' electricity it can be separated much easier from it compounds. 'Diets' of plants and animals might be significantly different when you can use electricity to break bonds instead of a chemical (acid) or physical (teeth or crop) to break things down to be useful for building ones own body.

Water can be broken down into Hydrogen and Oxygen with electricity and maybe some plants will store the two gases instead of a capacitor or in conjunction with them?

  • $\begingroup$ I didn't think of that! Okay, capacitors it is, and aluminium it is. So could you elaborate on how the 'diets' of plants and animals would be different if they could use electricity to break bonds? $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2015 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ @IJoinedCozIcan my chemistry is a bit rusty to try and go into how that would work. But I know you can change water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Nov 25, 2015 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @bowlturner hydrogen fuel cells in a carbon rich environment? What could possibly go wrong!! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Dec 17, 2017 at 17:47

The Asian Hornet converts sunlight into electricity, then appears to use it directly:

The sunlight that these hornets capture is likely converted into electrical 
energy. There exists a voltage between the inner and outer layers of the 
yellow stripe that increases in response to illumination. The harvested 
energy may be used in physical activity (digging or flight) and temperature 
regulation. It even seems to provide enough energy to carry out metabolic 
functions similar to the liver (producing or filtering enzymes and sugars). 
The enzymatic activity in these regions has been shown to decrease when the 
hornet is exposed to light, allowing it to conserve its energy.

Photovoltaic Asian Hornet

While the Asian Hornet is unique, it doesn't seem to need any exotic materials to make use of the electricity, though I believe the process is not completely understood.

Since the hornet can use the electricity to produce sugars, I imagine similar organisms might get by with a sugar reserve to consume when electrical energy sources are scarce.

  • $\begingroup$ That is ridiculously cool. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Dec 17, 2017 at 17:46

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