August 7, 2009

Scientists to explore algae energy options

KARLSRUHE, Germany, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Tomorow's energy providers may be today's micro-algae, German researchers say.

To explore the energy production possibilities of micro-algae, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology scientists said Thursday in a news release they are developing closed photo-bioreactors and novel cell disruption methods.

Micro-algae are monocellular, plant-like organisms that aid in photosynthesis and in converting carbon dioxide into biomass, a potential source for fuels such as biodiesel, the university said. Because algae take in CO2 while growing and release the gas when they are used for energy production, scientists said they theorize energy from algae can be produced in a CO2-neutral manner.

"Compared to land plants, algae produce five times as much biomass per hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) and contain 30 percent to 40 percent oil usable for energy production," said KIT professor Clemens Posten, who is heading the research.

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