In this modern age, majority of people’s lifestyle are driven by consumption. Because of this, the gap between demand and resources has greatly widen.
This means that the raw materials needed in the construction of so-called modern-day necessities such as gasoline is rapidly dwindling but the demand for the end products continues to soar. This kind of situation is possible because most of the natural materials that are utilizedare non-renewable, meaning these materials can not be replaced or reproduced. So, the need to discover renewable resources have been the main concern of many scientists.
In an article at the Biology News Net website entitled “ Algae could one day be a major hydrogen fuel source” written by Argonne National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, it tackled the likelihood of algae as a manufacturer of hydrogen for the production of fuel. According to scientists, algae have a lot of potential as a source of renewable fuel particularly hydrogen gas. Algae are one-celled plants.
The most common and popular kind of algae are seaweeds which are found on beaches or the ocean. These are the greenish or brownish plant you see on the water floating that sometimes are caught in your body while you swim.
Moreover, based on the findings of David Tiede, a chemist at the mentioned laboratory, algae produce hydrogen gas through their hydrogenase which is an enzyme responsible for removing their excess gas. Presently, a team of experts led by Tiede is attempting to find ways to generate hydrogen from algae using photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process common to all plants in which the byproduct is oxygen. If they would find a method on how to conduct this experiment, large quantity of hydrogen gas can be produced at the same rate as with the production of oxygen.
Compared to corn, algae is more practical as a source of renewable energy because corn requires a larger land area for its cultivation while algae can be grown in smaller spaces which can also be mobile such as a closed photobioreactor analogous or a microbial fermentor. Though the research is just starting, its predicted outcome is very promising which could be a major contribution in saving the environment (Argonne National Laboratory, 2008, “Algae could one day be a major hydrogen fuel source”).
It is amazing how a simple plant can dramatically alter the production of renewable fuels. In my Biology class, algae were just simply defined as “aquatic unicellular organisms.” The usual description of algae is that they are not actually plants but they are considered plants because they have similar characteristics with plants due to their ability to undergo photosynthesis. Its beneficial function as a source of energy was not frequently discussed in school.
More so, in biology, only the basic functions of algae are taught. The most common knowledge about their function is only limited with their relationships with other life forms under water. Most of the time, the numerous species of algae are depicted as the only source of food for higher marine organisms like fishes. But I have found out in class that algae are also used as raw materials for many products including pharmaceutical and coloring agents.