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Directory:Using green algae to produce hydrogen from sunlight and water via photosynthesis

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Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have engineered a strain of green microalgae that could, with further refinements, produce vast amounts of hydrogen through photosynthesis. The breakthrough also could have application in a wide range of products, from biodiesel to cosmetics. Present efficiency is at around 30 cents / kW-h. In 2000, when the technology was first announced, they were at 300 cents / kW-h.

Theoretical optimum is at 3 cents / kW-h. This is based on observation of normal photosynthesis processes. It is also based on a marketing model of on-site hydrogen production and conversion to electricity, not requiring hydrogen storage and transport.

Methods of improving efficiency for commercial application include:

  • genetic engineering of algae
  • physiological factors to enhance algae's production

Image:H2algae UCBerkeley.jpg

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Contents

About

Academic Teams in Pursuit of Technology

U.C. Berkeley

Lead by Dr. Tasios Melis, USA. Team of 12 researchers involved.

"Hydrogen fuel and electricity may become the primary 21st century energy carriers in California and the nation. Modification of photosynthesis in green algae may permit the generation of hydrogen gas as a clean, renewable and economically viable fuel. However, specific biological problems associated with sustained photosynthetic production of hydrogen gas require solutions."

Contact

Tasios Melis, UC Berkeley
http://www.berkeley.edu/news/extras/energy/experts.html#melis
Professor of plant and microbial biology
Office phone: (510) 642-8166
E-mail: melis@nature.berkeley.edu

NREL, Colorado

Dr. Maria L. Ghirardi, Dr. Michael Seibert; Golden, Colorado, USA.

Brooklyn College

Dr. Juergen Polle; New York

In the News

  • 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 breakthrough also could have application in a wide range of products, from biodiesel to cosmetics. (Wired; Feb. 23, 2006)
  • Harnessing the Horsepower of Pond Scum" - I guess it's the equivalent of striking oil," said plant and microbial biology Professor Tasios Melis. "It was enormously exciting. It was unbelievable." ... (UC Berkeley Press Release; 02.16.00)

Comments

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Related Technologies

  • Solar Hydrogen / Algae >
    OriginOil Achieves Hydrogen Production Comparable To Photovoltaics - OriginOil intends the Hydrogen Harvester to be deployed as an additional system output in algae production settings, approaching an efficiency of 12 percent when exposed to the sun. An advantage is that algae stores up energy during the day and will continue to generate hydrogen throughout the night. (Biofuel Daily; November 11, 2010)

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