Register for updates

 
 

Environment & Ecology
RSS Feed
Harnessing Algae for the Creation of Clean Energy
Thursday, October 06, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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

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 environmentally-friendly energy source. Their results have been published in back-to-back studies in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology for Biofuels.

The research was led by Dr. Iftach Yacoby, head of TAU's renewable energy laboratory, and Rinat Semyatich, Haviva Eisenberg, Iddo Weiner and Oded Liran, his students at the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences.

Researchers in the past believed that algae only produce hydrogen in the course of a single microburst at dawn lasting just a few minutes. But 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.

Increasing algae's output of hydrogen

Laboratory tests 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.




Latest News

New Antibacterial Fillings from TAU May Combat Recurring Tooth Decay

Novel material may prevent one of the costliest and most prevalent bacterial diseases in the world.

First Proof-of-Concept Demonstrates Genetic Sex Selection in Mammals

Crossed transgenic mouse lines struck males without affecting females, TAU researchers say.

2019 Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival Looks to the Future

International students, filmmakers and glitterati flock to 21st edition of festival, held throughout the city of Tel Aviv.

TAU Scientist Prof. Judith Berman Is Elected Member of European Molecular Biology Organization

EMBO promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond.

Fruit Bats Can Transform Echoes Into Images

Bats see and use their eyes as much as they hear and use echolocation, TAU researchers say.

TAU Ranks Among World's Top 20 Universities for Impact of Scientific Research

QS World University Rankings assess performance of over 1,000 universities in 82 locations worldwide.

8,000 Cyber Security Experts to Attend 9th Annual Cyber Week Conference at TAU

Weeklong event features world's top cyber security experts in government, military, industry and academia.

Study Shows How the Nervous System Can Transmit Information Across Multiple Generations

Mechanism identified in nematodes allows neurons to communicate with germ cells, TAU researchers say.

TAU Researchers Spearhead Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease

New method tracks early stages of protein aggregation involved in Parkinson's.

Inauguration of the Ady Seidman Lobby

Attractive large entrance hall honors the memory of one of the founding fathers of TAU's Engineering Faculty.

contentSecondary
c

© 2019 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University