CeBiTec Distinguished Lecture


Monday, November 7th 2011, 17 c.t.


Plenary Hall, ZiF building


Prof. Dr. Anastasios Melis

University of California, Berkeley, USA


Photosynthesis for hydrogen and isoprene
fuels production

The concept of Photosynthetic Biofuels entails a process where a single organism acts both as photocatalyst and processor, absorbing sunlight, photosynthesizing, and secreting ready to use fuels. An example of successful application of this concept is hydrogen photo-production by green microalgae from sunlight and water. Independent efforts include metabolic engineering approaches, whereby photosynthesis in microalgae is diverted toward terpenoid hydrocarbon synthesis and release. Green microalgae, e.g. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and cyanobacteria, e.g. Synechocystis sp., are model organisms amenable to transformation for bioenergetic and metabolic flux manipulation, leading to isoprene, a 5-carbon small volatile molecule that emanates from the cultures. A comparative analysis of hydrogen and isoprene production will be presented, including process scale-up and product sequestration. Additional specific issues to be discussed include efforts to improve the solar-to-fuel energy conversion efficiency of photosynthesis, up to a theoretical maximum of ~10%, and a listing of issues pertaining to the successful commercialization of microalgal-based biofuel technologies.


Prof. Dr. Olaf Kruse