Experts believe that hydrogen is a viable alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By gathering photosynthetic algae into water droplets with sugars, scientists are building mini-biological factories that produce hydrogen. This hydrogen could be used as a source of green energy.
Under carefully controlled conditions inside the water drop, the algae will stop producing oxygen and, in turn, will release hydrogen, according to a study recently published in the Nature Communications journal. While these tiny factories are far too small to power our homes or hydrogen cars, research indicates that this process could be a possible source of sustainable clean energy if the process is done on a much bigger scale.
Usually, photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. But the scientists behind the study found that algae compressed together in a drop of water produce hydrogen instead. This is because there are not enough oxygen atoms to circulate for normal photosynthesis reactions to occur, which means that the enzymes that produce hydrogen are activated instead.
Taking things a step further, scientists have covered their biological plants with oxygen-consuming bacteria, causing more algae to produce more hydrogen.
These tiny hydrogen factories will not end our energy crisis and it will not stop greenhouse gas emissions alone, but scientists expect the idea to work on a larger scale, reducing the cost of hydrogen fuel cells.