Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Driving toward an algae-powered future

A new research project led by Los Alamos National Laboratory seeks to drive algal biofuels to marketability, decreasing our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and putting the brakes on global warming.
December 24, 2015
LANL scientist Richard Sayre

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist David Fox holds a vial of blue-green algae that is part of the Laboratory’s research into improving algae strains for increased biomass yield and carbon capture efficiency. Algal biomass can be converted to advanced biofuels that offer promising alternatives to petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels. Additionally, algae can be used to make a range of other valuable bioproducts, such as industrial chemicals, bio-based polymers and proteins.

Science on the Hill: Driving toward an algae-powered future

by Richard Sayre

We can all thank algae for the air we breathe. These amazing — and amazingly prolific — photosynthetic microorganisms began pumping oxygen into Earth’s atmosphere more than a billion years ago. In the process, algae absorbed carbon dioxide. That simple exchange enabled nearly all life on Earth.

Growing Plants to Power Our Engines and Feed the World
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Growing Plants to Power Our Engines and Feed the World

Not bad for a group of species anchoring the base of the food chain. Incredibly diverse and abundant around the globe, algae photosynthesize about half the oxygen we breathe. They just need a watery home, sunshine, CO2 and a few minerals to grow — rapidly.

Algae’s appetite for CO2 and their remarkable ability to produce oil might soon have us saying thanks again. A new research project led by Los Alamos National Laboratory seeks to drive algal biofuels to marketability, decreasing our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and putting the brakes on global warming.

This article first appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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