Green Energy

Algae for the biofuels industry

Algae produces 30 times more energy per acre than corn, soybeans, and sugarcane, and can grow in saltwater, which is our world’s most abundant source of water. The advantages of deriving biodiesel from algae includes rapid growth rates, a high per-acre yield; and algae biofuel contains no sulphur, and is non-toxic, and highly biodegradable. Some species of algae are ideally suited to biodiesel production due to their high oil content, in some species, topping out near 50%. However, oil-producing algal strains on a large scale has not been possible because of the undesirable culture crashes.

ABR research will aim to develop an empirical model system for not only controlling ‘metazoan organisms’ contamination on overall algal culture stability and biomass production potential, but also for shortening the time period for algae harvest (by a lot), and also increases the lipid content (by a lot – in some species, up to 86% more neutral lipid) by using special environmentally friendly bacterium, coupled with the recovery and re-utilization of industrial carbon dioxide and industrial wastewater streams, containing nutrients are excellent for algae production, in which could be of great interest to this industry. A smart phyto technology for the purposes of ruptured/lysed cells, releasing the oils and/or other valuable chemicals, will be investigated.

Algae for the electronics industry

Cyanobacteria account for 20–30% of earth’s photosynthetic productivity. They’re capable of converting sunlight directly into electricity in a CO2-free manner, on a global scale. The amount of solar energy that is harvested by cyanobacteria exceeds more than 25 times the energy consumed by humans. They’re unlike other photosynthetic prokaryotes, as they utilise the energy of sunlight to drive photosynthesis, where H2O molecules split into O2, protons and electrons (e) and a portion of hydrogen (H2). Less than 95% e are utilised by the cyanobacterial cells for their own needs and only ≤5% of these e are donated to the external environmental ‘biosphere’.

Sunlight + CO2 + 2H2O (CH2O) + H2O + O2 + e + Protons + small amount of H2

On a global scale the average rate of e discharge, namely, transfer of solar energy to the environment via cyanobacterial electrogenic pathway could proceed at the rate of ~9 TW (terawatt). In comparison with the global wind power generated at locations with the mean annual wind speeds of 6.9 m/s is found to be ~72 TW for the year 2000.

Algae for the hydrogen industry

At the moment, scientists have determined the efficiency of light to hydrogen (H2) conversion to be only 1%. Our aim is to develop a novel inexpensive method of producing bulk hydrogen relevant to the establishment of a H2 economy above 1%. In this regard, we will use groups of cyanobacterial strains to use sunlight coupled to a bio-hydrogenase donor with the help of phage biotechnology for the splitting of water for mainly H2 production in a novel batch reactor closed system.

ABR has an innovative idea to scale up the production of cyanobacterial e and H2 released outside cyanobacterium cells. Furthermore, a novel substance of cyano-nanomaterials can be extracted and used for doubling the electrodes capacity of PV systems, producing novel bio-electrode with highly efficient absorption and collection of more light, and producing unprecedented wind generating power capacity from wind despite wind speeds and sunlight. We anticipate many novel applications of the cyano-electrogenic activity can be developed.