By improving the nutrient supply of water, algae could help restore water to a vital part of our food supply, according to a new study.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), show that algae are a significant source of oxygen in the atmosphere and ocean.
The research was led by Prof Robert Trewin from the University of Oxford, who is the lead author on the study.
It was an opportunity to look at how the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by the oceans can be used to regenerate nutrients.
“Algae are one of the largest sources of CO 2 in the world, so if we can use the carbon released by these organisms to create oxygen for us, we can create a carbon source for the atmosphere, we could create a new source of food for people, and we could have a new sustainable source of water,” he said.
“The question we’re really interested in looking at is whether algae can be a very good source of carbon.”
It turns out that the answer is yes, with the growth of algae, in particular, has a significant impact on the carbon release that happens in the oceans.
“What you can do is put algae in your tanks and you can see that it actually does create more oxygen for the air.
So it’s a big deal,” he added.
Dr Trewan said it was also the first study to show that oxygen-based algae are able to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for recharging their cells, which may be a way to use the oxygen for other things.
“It could be that if you put algae there in tanks and it’s growing there, it can produce oxygen for you, but you can also use the energy of the sun to recharge the cells,” he explained.
“That’s what we’ve been doing with the plants we’ve used in the study, to recharge their cells.”
And it’s not only algae that do this.
You can see in the photosynthetic photosynthesising algae that you can use energy to turn carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen.
“We think that algae will play a role in a lot of different kinds of biomes.”
Algae can also help remove carbon dioxide, but that was a different story.
“In terms of removing carbon dioxide you have to do it with a little bit of electricity and that is a very big challenge.
But the thing is, you can actually convert that carbon dioxide back into oxygen, which is what we’re looking at doing with algae,” he continued.”
There’s an enormous amount of energy that’s needed to do that.”
If you can take that energy and convert it into a fuel then you can be creating more carbon dioxide for the planet.
“The researchers also found that the algae are better at this.”
They’re able to use carbon dioxide as a fuel because they’re using it to generate energy, they’re able use it to produce oxygen, they can use it for photosynthesis, they’ve got all these other things going on,” he noted.”
So the question we have is: how do we do it?
“Prof Trewun said it would be a great idea to take these algae to places where there was a need to regenerate carbon, such as a hospital or factory, where the CO 2 could be stored and used to make fuels.”
I think the next thing we would like to do is use algae to replace a lot the CO2 that is released into our atmosphere.””
It would be great if we could get this carbon into aquaria and take it to them.”
I think the next thing we would like to do is use algae to replace a lot the CO2 that is released into our atmosphere.