Metabolic engineering could increase the yield of starch, lipids or direct output (Rupprecht, 2009). Adding a protein that works as a sugar transporter in the membrane of the microalgae Chlorella sp. rose the H2 production by 150% and a successful change of a pathway from anaerobic to aerobic could further increase the yield (Rupprecht, 2009).
New enzymatic ways is another possibility. The seaweed Ceylon moss, has low lignin content which makes it suitable to extract sugars from. It has, however, 10-15% lower sugar content than wheat straw or corn, but could with the correct enzymatic treatment get a 5 to 70% increase in output (Wi et al., 2009). This implies a “vast and rather unexplored” bioethanol production (Wi et al., 2009). Another way to work with enzymes is to use nano-technology to create microscopic sites for enzymatic activity and thus decrease the need for chemicals (Tran et al., 2010).
To compete with fossil fuel an increase of the energy density of the algae biomass would be welcome. One suggestion is to look at a system approach in order to understand the underlying mechanisms of the algae’s different parts and how these parts work with each other well as with the surrounding community. This holistic approach is important since the biomass amount and quality is regulated from multiple inputs at pathway, cell and community level (Rupprecht, 2009).
Written by Per Hedegård June 15:th 3:22