Clean, Green, POWER!

A review of the technologies from the frontiers of innovation that will change our world. For better or for worse depends on how we implement it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hydrogen Fuel From Genetically Modified Algae

This isn't related to biofuels, or maybe it is, since they use an organism's biological process to produce hydrogen. Whatever the case, hydrogen is considered the fuel source of choice for the future. Why not? It's a clean fuel -- emissions are only pure water vapour. So pure you can even drink it.

Now back to the topic on hand, it seems that the eggheads at the Univerisity of California in Berkeley have developed a strain of algae that can produce large quantities of hydrogen through photosynthesis.

Previously the amount of hydrogen produced was not much to brag about, but the scientists working on the project have genetically altered the algae to produce 100,000 times more hydrogen than what it's natural counterpart can produce.

An excerpt from the Wired News article:
Mutant Algae Is Hydrogen Factory

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The work, led by plant physiologist Tasios Melis, is so far unpublished.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.

The famous bio-entrepeneur J. Craig Venter has also expressed interest in this project.

Other news sources related to this post:
The Register, UK - Pond life: the future of energy
Autoblog.com - Bioengineered algae bringing hydrogen fuel-cells closer?

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