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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2010 Jun;21(3):244-51. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2010.02.012. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Photobiological production of hydrogen gas as a biofuel.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, United States.


Solar energy can be converted into chemical energy in the form of hydrogen gas using oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthetic microbes. Laboratory-scale measurements suggest that photobiological hydrogen production rates could yield more energy than current crop-based biofuel productivities. Major challenges, such as inhibitory amounts of oxygen produced during oxygenic photosynthesis and inhibition of H(2)-producing nitrogenase by ammonia, are being overcome through genetic engineering. Further advances are expected as the metabolic and regulatory aspects behind photobiological hydrogen production are revealed. Genetic engineering, coculturing, and bioreactor designs making use of immobilized cells have the potential to increase conversion efficiencies of light energy to H(2) and to decrease the land area needed for photobiological H(2) production.

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