Gallery: Researchers Design Synthetic Trees to Produce Algal Biofuels a...


In the global effort to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, scientists have been looking towards algal biofuels as renewable sources of energy. Microalgae is capable of using sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce energy-rich molecules, create bioplastics, and act as a replacement to petroleum. Most current methods of growing the tiny plants are inefficient due to the large amounts of water and energy required, but Dr. Hail Berberoglu and Thomas Murphy from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a system that mimics the structure of trees called the Surface Adhering Bioreactor (SABR). By imitating the way vascular plants transport water and nutrients, they were able to greatly increase the efficiency of the cultivation process.

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