Scientists at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are using green algae mutant strains (not to be confused with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to produce hydrogen. The particular strain of algae is called Chlamydomonas reinhardtii which contains properties of both plants and animals.
According to NREL, “The finding suggests ways to increase the production of hydrogen by algae, which could help turn hydrogen into a viable alternative fuel for transportation.
“Using sunlight and water to produce potential transportation fuels such as hydrogen is considered a promising solution in the quest for developing clean, abundant, domestic alternatives to petroleum …
“…Recent papers on the same green alga species indicate that it is possible to genetically eliminate certain competitive electron-utilizing pathways, and that directing more electrons instead towards the cell’s hydrogenase does increase hydrogen production. In an industrial setting, green algal mutant strains optimized for hydrogen gas production would be cultivated in a sealed bioreactor and the hydrogen gas produced would be collected and stored for use in fuel cells.”
So, coming someday soon to a theatre near you, may be your very own backyard bioreactor. Homegrown hydrogen may not be as sci-fi as you think within a few short years.