Algae is Gooey Power

I’m always impressed by what algae can do. It can be used to generate electricity, make us healthier, it can function as a biofuel, and can be used to clean the air. Algae can almost solve all the worlds problems!

Some enterprising researchers have found out that algae can also be tweaked to create a lot of hydrogen. Hydrogen produced by algae can then be used as a power source elsewhere.

Melis has created mutant algae that make better use of sunlight than their natural cousins do. This could increase the hydrogen that the algae produce by a factor of three. It would also boost the algae’s production of oil for biofuels.

The new finding will be important in maximizing the production of hydrogen in large-scale, commercial bioreactors. In a laboratory, Melis says, “[we make] low-density cultures and have thin bottles so that light penetrates from all sides.” Because of this, the cells use all the light falling on them. But in a commercial bioreactor, where dense algae cultures would be spread out in open ponds under the sun, the top layers of algae absorb all the sunlight but can only use a fraction of it.

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