VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Algae research. Flasks of algae cultures being shaken by an agigitating machine to aid growth at Solazyme Inc., USA. Algae are photosynthesising micro-organisms that can convert carbon dioxide into sugars. The sugars are then converted into large concentrations of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins that have high commercial value. Solazyme uses synthetic biology and genetic engineering to produce novel strains of algae. These are grown in tanks of fermentation bioreactors and fed sugars directly. This closed system allows the temperature and pressure to be accurately controlled. This compares to open systems that rely on the presence of sunlight. Algae can produce edible oils, and biodiesel. They can also be dried as a fertiliser, animal feed or burned as biomass. Photographed in 2008.
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