Could algae be a key to our future energy needs? Anastasios Melis, a University of California biology professor, thinks so. Already looked at to replace non-renewable oil, algae also has the ability to create hydrogen. Melis is pushing this idea further by creating mutant algae that, he hopes, can increase algae hydrogen production by threefold. The mutant algae use sunlight more efficiently, boosting both hydrogen and oil production.
The trick is to produce algae with less chlorophyll, allowing sunlight to reach the inner algae layers. Their work has allowed them to reduce the amount of chlorophyll in the algae cells from 600 molecules to 300 with 130 as the target. Traditionally most of sun's energy is used to convert our friend CO2 and water into glucose and oxygen. Eighty kilograms per acre per day of hydrogen could be created if all the energy went towards hydrogen production. Milas notes that it is highly unlikely to get algae to produce only hydrogen, but the good news is that even at a 50% conversion rate hydrogen would cost about $2.80 a kilogram.
written by Mark, October 10, 2007
written by Sed Emihcra, October 11, 2007
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