About a month ago, a ninth-grader in Russia won an award for her research project on photobioreactor design for algae cultivation. And this is the time for an eleventh grader. Moaaz Rashad, a Grade 11 student at Regina’s Huda School in, Ontario, Canada won a 2011 Manning Innovation Achievement Award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. The boy was recognized for his research on the potential use of algae to generate hydrogen as an alternative fuel.
Along with a prize of $500 from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, he received a Canada-Wide Science Fair Bronze Medal and offers of two university entrance scholarships for his innovative research project.
Rashad’s research investigated the feasibility of using algae, specifically Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to produce hydrogen under different conditions: depriving the algae of sulfur, adding copper, using inert gases and adding various algaecides to prevent photosynthesis. He explained that in these conditions, eventually oxygen is depleted and the algae are forced to use a form of anaerobic metabolism. Using light energy, the algal enzyme hydrogenase converts hydrogen ions in the water into molecular hydrogen.
Rashad concluded that the use of copper sulphate pentahydrate was the most feasible of the approaches he studied, and the continued use of the copper additive sustained ongoing production of hydrogen from the algae. From his results, he suggested that an Olympic swimming pool-sized tank of algae would be able to produce 300,000 litres of hydrogen per day.
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