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9 Apr 2013

Chemists discover green microscopic algae could be used for biodiesel

Chemists have found that marine algae may be used to increase oil production

A team of chemists have discovered several compounds that could boost oil production through green microscopic algae.
This may be a source of biodiesel and other green fuels, according to the research from the University of California, Davis.
As single-celled organisms, microalgae use photosynthesis to capture carbon dioxide and turn it into compounds like oils and lipids.
They also survive in saltwater and as a result do not compete with food crops for land or fresh water, the study explained.
Screening 83 compounds for their effects on oil production in four strains of microalgae, the researchers found that several had the potential to increase oil production by as much as 85 per cent.
It was suggested that after oil has been extracted from the algae, the leftover mass could be processed for animal feed or other uses.
Assistant professor of chemistry Annaliese Franz said: "The basic concept comes from the pharmaceutical industry, and it's been used for human cells, plants, yeast, but not so far for algae."

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