April 10, 2008

Algae May Be Next Major Renewable Hydrogen Fuel Source

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Cecilia Arceo - AHN

Argonne, IL (AHN) - Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are utilizing algae for production of the next generation of renewable fuels - hydrogen gas.

Senior chemist David Tiede believed that there is a fundamental advantage in looking at the production of hydrogen by photosynthesis as a renewable fuel. Some species of algae, a kind of unicellular plant, contain an enzyme called hydrogenase that can produce small amounts of hydrogen gas.

"Right now, ethanol is being produced from corn, but generating ethanol from corn is a thermodynamically much more inefficient process," Tiede told Science Daily.

Tiede and his group are attempting to find a way to take the part of the enzyme that creates the gas and introduce it into the photosynthesis process. The result would be a large amount of hydrogen gas and maybe even to produce some amounts of oxygen.

Algae has several benefits over corn in fuel production. Unlike to corn biofuel, algae biofuel can be grown almost anywhere and harvesting algae is much simpler.

The research was financed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

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