From Water to Hydrogen Biofuel – ASU Uses Light-Driven Energy Extraction
by Helena Tavares Kennedy (Biofuels Digest) In Arizona, Arizona State University researcher Kevin Redding is working on biological, light-driven energy extraction. Redding, a biochemist who leads the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis at ASU, is producing hydrogen biofuel from water instead of from natural gas which is a fossil fuel.
Redding said, “I’m trying to redirect the natural photosynthesis pathway to be useful to us.” According to ASU, “Think of photosynthesis as an assembly line. You start at one end, oxidize water, and it releases oxygen. Electrons come down through the pathway and at the very end take carbon dioxide out of the air, fixing it into organic molecules like sugar and protein. Redding has redirected those electrons to make hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel.”
“That’s the whole idea behind making biofuels from CO2 in the air, which is probably a better idea, because our whole infrastructure is set to deal with liquid fuels,” Redding said. “If we’re dealing with hydrocarbons right now, why not stick with that? You take CO2 from the air, you make a fuel you can put in your tank, you burn it, you make CO2 again, but since that carbon came from CO2 in the air anyway, there’s no net production.” READ MORE
ASU on the forefront of a Great Transition (Arizona State University)
Excerpts from Arizona State University: To get to the point, algae as a fuel is not happening, at least not from a large-scale standpoint.
The issue is not “Can you make oil out of algae?” It’s “Can you make hundreds of millions of barrels at not more than twice the cost of conventional oil?”
Hydrogen is used in making gasoline and diesel fuel, food products, chemicals, semiconductors, metals and more. It’s more valuable as a commodity. Before you’d ever use it as a fuel you’d have to flood the commodity market.
“Fuels are very high volume, low margin,” Redding said. “It’s the lowest-value thing you can make. Right now hydrogen is much more valuable as a commodity than a fuel. … Economically it doesn’t make sense.”
The best estimate he has heard is that biofuels could get to be only 40 or 50 percent more expensive than petroleum.
“Who’s going to pay $2 more for a gallon, even if you had the choice?” he said. “We could do it. We could do it right now. But as long as there’s an alternative, no one is going to do it.” READ MORE