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Cyanobacteria: The Next Big Biofuel?


Could cyanobacteria eventually become a more popular biofuel than corn, sugarcane, or even algae? Quite possibly. According to Science Daily, cyanobacteria can convert up to 10 percent of the sun’s energy into biomass.

This is a drastic improvement over the 1 percent rate of crops like corn and sugarcane, as well as the 5 percent rate of algae. With such a high conversion rate, cyanobacteria could replace a hefty amount of fossil fuels without taking up too much land.

At a recent conference organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF), participants discussed how photosynthesis evolved by cyanobacteria produced our current fossil fuel supply. Now the objective is to use those same reactions to produce more fuel—without taking fossil fuels out of the ground.

These reactions could theoretically be created with an artificial leaf system consisting of self-assembling nanodevices that regenerate themselves much like real plants and cyanobacteria do.

But we won’t see such a system on the market anytime soon— the technology will be in development for another 10 to 20 years. In the meantime, however, algae appears to be the most promising biofuel contender.

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was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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