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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Carl Zimmer
The four flasks look like they’re filled with bubbling lime juice. “If you look closely,” says Hamid Rismani-Yazdi, a Yale postdoctoral researcher, “you can see the algae.” It’s true: put your nose to the Pyrex, and you can make out tiny flecks of Dunaliella tertiolecta, an ocean-dwelling species, riding the turbulence.
Rismani-Yazdi’s flasks may look like nothing more than improvised aquariums. But Rismani-Yazdi and his colleagues have great hopes for the algae they’re rearing. It’s possible that these organisms may help start an industrial revolution.
Like a growing number of other scientists, they think algae may someday be able to churn out huge amounts of environmentally friendly fuel. It’s an idea on which investors are also betting, and in a big way. Some $800 million in venture capital has flowed into companies working on algae fuels, most of it arriving over just the past few months. From green flasks like these may come a postpetroleum economy.
At least that’s the idea. Despite all the cash and all the headlines, the quest for algae biofuel has a long way to go. There are many open questions about whether it can really work on an industrial scale. Last year three professors at Yale—Jordan Peccia, Julie Zimmerman and Paul Anastas—decided to combine the brainpower in their labs to solve many of the mysteries about algae fuel. They are deciphering the complex network of genes inside of algae to learn how to manipulate them to be better fuel factories. And they are also…
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