Published On: Tue, Oct 11th, 2016

Israeli Researchers: We Can Power The World With Algae! the world’s cleanest energy source

Tel Aviv University researchers discover algae can yield mass quantities of hydrogen, the world's cleanest energy source

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In search of environmentally friendly and clean sources of energy, the main question was whether we could actually mass produce biofuels from what sources. researchers at Tel Aviv University have revealed how microalgae produce hydrogen, a clean fuel of the future, and suggest a possible mechanism to jumpstart mass production of this friendly energy source.

The researchers led by Dr. Iftach Yacoby,  were recently able to produce five times more hydrogen from Microphytes.

It was previously thought that algae only produce hydrogen in the course of a single microburst at dawn lasting just a few minutes,  and thus only a small amount of hydrogen can be generated from them.

 

Dr. Yacoby and his team used highly sensitive technology to discover that algae produce hydrogen from photosynthesis all day long.

Armed with this discovery, the team harnessed genetic engineering to increase algae’s production of this clean energy source 400 percent.

 

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Increasing algae’s output of hydrogen

The TAU study revealed that algae create hydrogen with the assistance of the enzyme hydrogenase, which breaks down when oxygen is present. The researchers discovered effective mechanisms to remove oxygen so hydrogenase can keep producing hydrogen.

“The discovery of the mechanisms makes it clear that algae have a huge underutilized potential for the production of hydrogen fuel, ” said Dr. Yacoby. “The next question is how to beef up production for industrial purposes — to get the algae to overproduce the enzyme.”

Some 99% of the hydrogen produced in the US comes from natural gas. But the methods used to draw hydrogen from natural gas are toxic — and wasteful.

 

Answering the need for clean energy

“I grew up on a farm, dreaming of hydrogen, ” said Dr. Yacoby. “Since the beginning of time, we have been using agriculture to make our own food. But when it comes to energy, we are still hunter-gatherers. Cultivating energy from agriculture is really the next revolution. There may be other ways to produce hydrogen, but this is the greenest and the only agricultural one.

“The world burns in just one year energy it took the earth over a million years to produce, ” Dr. Yacoby continued. “We must stop being hunters and gatherers of energy. We must start producing clean energy — for our children and for our children’s children.”

Dr. Yacoby is now researching synthetic enzymes capable of increasing hydrogen production from microalgae to industrial levels.

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