Algal Biofuel Reactors on a Chip to Revolutionize Renewable Energy Research

Most of the world’s oil reserves are buried kilometers under the Earth’s surface. With nations worldwide slowly waking up to its ecological impacts, our newest sources of oil may lie far below Cayuga’s waters, stored in a group of green, slimy organisms: algae. Algae are valuable because the natural oils they produce are remarkably similar to diesel. Using a simple conversion process, these oils can be used in vehicles that currently operate on fossil fuels. The issue, however, is efficiency.

Why Certain Bacteria Are Not So Efficient at Producing Biofuel

NASA’s annual climate reports seem to be displaying a chilling trend: 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record. With the world’s fossil fuel consumption increasing by 0.6 percent last year, the chances of permanently altered climate patterns are no longer miniscule. However, spurred by the Paris Agreement of 2015, countries seem to be embracing renewable sources of energy. Obstacles, such as their comparative efficiency, remain. That’s where a new study that sheds light on how bacteria metabolize biomass by Prof. Ludmilla Aristilde, biological and environmental engineering, could come in handy.