Gephyrocapsa oceanica - Wikimedia Commons
In recent years, algae has gotten a fair bit of attention for its potential use as a feedstock for producing biodiesel. While the net carbon output of algae sourced liquid fuels could be a huge boon to the environment, there is a possible path that could yield zero carbon emissions.
Researchers at the University of Tennessee are working on a process to produce hydrogen from algae via photosynthesis. The process would separate a particle produced by the algae during photosynthesis. The particle would then produce hydrogen in the presence of light and a platinum catalyst.
What makes this process different from previous efforts of this type is the strain of algae being used. The photosynthesis occurs at relatively high temperatures which often kill off the efficiency of the hydrogen generation process. The strain being tried by the Tennessee researchers is able to produce H2 at temperatures up to 131 degrees F. According the research team, the hydrogen-photosynthesis process they have is 25 times more efficient than biofuel production. However, the process still requires a lot of development and the researchers want to replace the platinum catalyst with something more affordable and abundant.
[Source: Green Car Advisor]