Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mutant Algae Hydrogen Factory

Thanks to Tait, I heard about this. Check out his site, anyway:

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have engineered a strain of pond scum that could, with further refinements, produce vast amounts of hydrogen through photosynthesis.

The work, led by plant physiologist Tasios Melis, is so far unpublished. But if it proves correct, it would mean a major breakthrough in using algae as an industrial factory, not only for hydrogen, but for a wide range of products, from biodiesel to cosmetics.

The new strain of algae, known as C. reinhardtii, has truncated chlorophyll antennae within the chloroplasts of the cells, which serves to increase the organism's energy efficiency. In addition, it makes the algae a lighter shade of green, which in turn allows more sunlight deeper into an algal culture and therefore allows more cells to photosynthesize. To read the rest of the article, click here.

This is pretty cool, although enviro-hippies will probably have a field day because this is genetically engineered algae, but either way this is big news. If scientists can further engineer the algae to be more efficient at producing hydrogen, and produce hydrogen all the time, it would be best, but baby steps. These algae can be producing the fuel of the future if the government will stop cutting funding to scientific research groups. Whether this algae will prove useful remains to be seen, but it is none-the-less big news.

1 comment:

Cameron said...

I really hope this works alot better then doing hydrogen through electrolysis