The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

25 February 2006

Running on algae

Pond life: the future of energy
Hydrogen-producing algae breakthrough
By Chris Williams
Friday 24th February 2006 15:28 GMT

Genetic engineers have made a leap in developing a strain of algae with the potential to supply fuel for a future hydrogen economy, Wired reports.

Unpublished work from the University of California at Berkeley may have brought the technology past the economically viable 10 per cent efficiency level. By shortening the chlorophyll stacks in the photosynthetic organelles, plant physiologist Tasios Melis has "probably" passed the threshold.

Research has already ramped-up the rate by a factor of 100,000 by isolating the algae from sulphur, and groups are working to further improve it. One problem is the hydrogenase enzyme, which releases the precious fuel, cannot currently function in the presence of oxygen - but photosynthesis requires oxygen.

It's hoped changing the algal DNA to close pores that allow oxygen in will increase the hydrogen production.

The prospect is of huge desert algae farms supplying the world with a bonanza of cheap, clean energy.

Little surprise then, that ubiquitous bio-entrepreneur, ¤Craig Venter has his finger firmly in the pie, with research aimed at polishing the hydrogen molecular pathway itself so it can operate constantly.
¤Craig Ventner is an employee of Google. This breakthrough could represent a new stream of revenues for the company. Of course, it (the technology, the process, the distribution, etc) must first be made practical, it is initially unclear the relationship between Ventner and this process, and it is wholly unclear whether the employee/employer relationship between Ventner and Google includes items such as this one.

Any comments from readers?

-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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