Algae research

Algae research

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This image is part of the feature Superfuel From Superbugs

Credit: VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Algae research. Researcher from Solazyme Inc., USA, examining a petri dish containing different algae strains. Algae are photosynthesising micro-organisms. They convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into sugars, that are then metabolised into lipids, carbohydrates or proteins. Solazyme uses synthetic biology and genetic engineering to produce novel strains of algae. These are then cultivated using fermentation bioreactors. This method feeds sugar to algae in closed tanks and bypasses the photosynthesising stage. This improves on open systems that grow algae in sunlight, which are prone to contamination and changes in temperature.Algae can be processed to produce edible oil and biodiesel, dried as a fertiliser or animal feed or burned as biomass fuel. Photographed in 2008.

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