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Hydrogen producing “super-algae” a game-changer?

Israeli researchers bump up micro-algae hydrogen production fivefold, level is sufficient.

Using genetically altered micro-algae, researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU), Israel have managed to increase fivefold the natural hydrogen production from the organisms. According to lead researcher Dr Iftach Yakoby with the Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants Department at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, TAU, the level of hydrogen produced by the micro-algae is sufficient to power cars, electric bikes, and in the future, possibly greater energy needs.

The key finding, published recently in the journal “Plant Physiology and Biotechnology for Biofuel“, is that the researchers disproved the assumption that this type of algae only emits hydrogen for a short period, at daybreak. Instead they discovered that the micro-algae produce small amounts of hydrogen throughout the day, even while they produce larger amounts of oxygen during photosynthesis. Subsequently, they discovered a mechanism within the cells that works to eliminate oxygen.

– This signifies that micro-algae have enormous untapped potential to produce fuel with hydrogen. Our challenge now is to transfer the hydrogen-producing capability of our lab micro-algae to wild micro-algae, so that this function will survive in nature. In other words, we want to domesticate micro-algae and cultivate it for our needs, just as we have cultivated wheat to serve our needs, explained Yakoby.




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