Navigation Links
Engineering algae to make fuel instead of sugar
Date:12/16/2008

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - In pursuing cleaner energy there is such a thing as being too green. Unicellular microalgae, for instance, can be considered too green. In a paper in a special energy issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley describe a method for using microalgae for making biofuel. The researchers explain a way to genetically modify the tiny organisms, so as to minimize the number of chlorophyll molecules needed to harvest light without compromising the photosynthesis process in the cells. With this modification, instead of making more sugar molecules, the microalgae could be producing hydrogen or hydrocarbons.

Berkeley researchers have identified the genetic instructions in the algae genome responsible for deploying approximately 600 chlorophyll molecules in the cell's light-gathering antennae. They believe that the algae can get along with as few as 130 molecules. Basically the scientists want to divert the normal function of photosynthesis from generating biomass to making products such as lipids, hydrocarbons, and hydrogen.

Tasios Melis, one of the paper's co-authors, argues that the algae's chlorophyll antennae help the organisms compete for sunlight absorption and survive in the wild, where sunlight is often limited, but is detrimental to the engineering-driven effort of using algae to convert sunlight into biofuel.

Melis uses the phrase "cellular optics" to describe this general effort to maximize the efficiency of the solar-to-product conversion process. Besides getting the algae to convert more sunlight to fuel, another issue that needs to be addressed is how to configure bio-culture tanks in such a way that sunlight can penetrate the outer layer of algae so that lower-down layers can participate in the photo-conversion too.

Microalgae are ideal because of their high rate of photosynthesis; they are perhaps ten times more efficient in this than the land plantssuch as sugarcane, corn, and switchgrassoften discussed as possible biofuel stocks.

How soon can algae play a role? According to Melis, "Progress is substantial to date, but not enough to make the process commercially competitive with fossil fuels. Further improvement in the performance of photosynthesis under mass culture conditions, and in the yield of "biofuels" by the microalgae are needed before a cost parity with traditional fuels can be achieved."


'/>"/>

Contact: Colleen Morrison
cmorri@osa.org
202-416-1437
Optical Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Innovative civil engineering application promises cleaner waters
2. UC-San Diego Engineering Honor Society wins most outstanding chapter award
3. UCSD bioengineering grad student wins leadership award
4. Synaptics SecurePad(TM) Selected as CES Innovations 2008 Design and Engineering Award Honoree
5. Setting a course for the future of tissue engineering
6. UVa biomedical engineering study shows magnetic field can reduce swelling
7. Elsevier launches new journal: Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering
8. In diatom, scientists find genes that may level engineering hurdle
9. Colorado Engineering Firms Win NASA Grant to Develop Innovative Insulation for Next Generation Spacecraft - Super-Insulation May Allow Future Energy Efficient Appliances
10. MIT applies engineering approach to studying biological pathways
11. Sea cliff erosion, hemp construction materials and more at UCSD Engineering Conference
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/16/2017)... 2017 - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions "Made in Germany "  ... ... project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity fraud. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... VIEW, Calif. , March 9, 2017 ... 23andMe , the leading personal genetics company, are using ... now provide customers with personalized nutrition plans that consider ... but also genetic markers impacting how their body may ... food decision support platform uses biometrics such as Body ...
(Date:3/6/2017)... March 6, 2017 Mintigo , ... today announced Predictive Sales Coach TM , its ... sales intelligence into Salesforce. This unique AI application ... sales organizations with deep knowledge of their customers ... intelligent engagement. Predictive Sales Coach extends Mintigo,s existing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... -- Dutch philosopher Koert van Mensvoort - founder of the ... Technology in Eindhoven - has written a ,Letter to Humanity, in ... to avoid becoming a slave and victim to its own technology, but to ... ... Koert van Mensvoort – founder of the Next Nature Network and Fellow of ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... 2017 For today, Stock-Callers.com redirects investors, ... development and clinical research aimed at treating diseases and medical ... Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: KERX), Kite Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: KITE), ... can access our complimentary research reports on these stocks now ... http://stock-callers.com/registration ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 18, 2017 , ... A number of new instruments have recently emerged ... of the Protein and Cell Analysis Education Webinar Series , will focus on ... in current and future applications. , Many flow cytometers have unique capabilities and ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 18, 2017 , ... ... . The move comes after the company changed focus to making analytical tools ... brand and our new technology,” says CEO Robert Hart. Founders Bernardo Cordovez, Robert ...
Breaking Biology Technology: