TAU researchers discover algae can yield mass quantities of hydrogen, the world’s cleanest energy source
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have revealed how microalgae produce hydrogen, a clean fuel of the future, and suggest a possible mechanism to jumpstart mass production of this environmentally-friendly energy source. Their results have been published in back-to-back studies in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology for Biofuels.
The research was led by Dr. Iftach Yacoby, head of TAU’s renewable energy laboratory, and Rinat Semyatich, Haviva Eisenberg, Iddo Weiner and Oded Liran, his students at the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences.
Researchers in the past believed that algae only produce hydrogen in the course of a single microburst at dawn lasting just a few minutes. But Dr. Yacoby and his team used highly sensitive technology to discover that algae produce hydrogen from photosynthesis all day long. Armed with this discovery, the team harnessed genetic engineering to increase algae’s production of this clean energy source 400 percent.
Increasing algae’s output of hydrogen
Laboratory tests revealed that algae create hydrogen with the assistance of the enzyme hydrogenase, which breaks down when oxygen is present. The researchers discovered effective mechanisms to remove oxygen so hydrogenase can keep producing hydrogen.
“The discovery of the mechanisms makes it clear that algae have a huge underutilized potential for the production of hydrogen fuel,” said Dr. Yacoby. “The next question is how to beef up production for industrial purposes — to get the algae to overproduce the enzyme.”
Some 99% of the hydrogen produced in the US comes from natural gas. But the methods used to draw hydrogen from natural gas are toxic — and wasteful.
Answering the need for clean energy
“I grew up on a farm, dreaming of hydrogen,” said Dr. Yacoby. “Since the beginning of time, we have been using agriculture to make our own food. But when it comes to energy, we are still hunter-gatherers. Cultivating energy from agriculture is really the next revolution. There may be other ways to produce hydrogen, but this is the greenest and the only agricultural one.
“The world burns in just one year energy it took the earth over a million years to produce,” Dr. Yacoby continued. “We must stop being hunters and gatherers of energy. We must start producing clean energy — for our children and for our children’s children.”
Dr. Yacoby is now researching synthetic enzymes capable of increasing hydrogen production from microalgae to industrial levels.
Novel skin electrode is comfortable and has endless commercial and medical applications, says TAU researcher
A new temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University that can measure the activity of muscle and nerve cells researchers is poised to revolutionize medicine, rehabilitation, and even business and marketing research.
The tattoo consists of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin, and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode’s performance. It records a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin.
The electrode, developed by Prof. Yael Hanein, head of TAU’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, may improve the therapeutic restoration of damaged nerves and tissue — and may even lead to new insights into our emotional life.
Tel Aviv University (TAU) (Hebrew: אוניברסיטת תל־אביב Universitat Tel Aviv) is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel.
With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel’s largest university.
Tel Aviv University offers special programs of Jewish studies to teachers and students from the United States, France, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. The programs are in English.
The Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law has exchange agreements with 24 overseas universities, including: University of Virginia, Cornell University, Boston University, UCLA, Bucerius (Germany), EBS (Germany), McGill (Canada), Osgoode Hall (Canada), Ottawa (Canada), Queens University (Queens), Toronto (Canada), Bergen (Norway), STL (China), KoGuan (China), Tsinghua (China), Jindal Global (India), University of Hong Kong, Singapore Management University, Monash (Australia), Sydney (Australia), Sciences Po (France), Seoul (South Korea), Lucern (Switzerland), and Bocconi (Italy).
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Tel Aviv University research articles from Innovation Toronto
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- Cyborg Electronics-Living Tissue Cardiac Patch May Treat the Diseased Heart – March 16, 2016
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- Eyes Sealed Shut: Seamless Closure of Surgical Incisions – June 10, 2015
- Programming DNA to Reverse Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria – June 5, 2015
- A “Super-Cool” Way to Deliver Drugs – May 11, 2015
- Where No Smartphone Has Gone Before – April 2, 2015
- A Heartbeat Away? Hybrid “Patch” Could Replace Transplants – October 2, 2014
- Involuntary Eye Movement a Foolproof Indication for ADHD Diagnosis – August 15, 2014
- Smartphone App May Revolutionize Mental Health Treatment – July 2, 2014
- Cellular signalling for kidney regeneration discovered – June 29, 2014
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- Turning Off the “Aging Genes”
- Radio Waves Carry News of Climate Change
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- ‘Fantastic Voyage’ Through the Body, With Precision Control
- Smart Swarms of Bacteria Inspire Robotics
- A Light Wave of Innovation to Advance Solar Energy
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