Microalgae could be used as a clean source of hydrogen production.

An international research team has devised a new way to produce hydrogen and methane with significantly reduced carbon footprint using microalgae. 

Researchers have used reactive flash volatilisation (RFV) gasification technology to produce hydrogen using microalgae, giving rise to newer and cleaner forms of energy.

Findings show the greenhouse gas emissions of hydrogen production using RFV on microalgae is 36 per cent less compared to the steam reforming of methane gas – the current best practice for hydrogen production.

With additional renewable energy processes, such as hydro-electricity, integrated with the researchers’ hydrogen production process, carbon emissions could drop by as much as 87 per cent.

Currently, the production of microalgae does not meet commercial demand. However, microalgae cultivation for energy applications could also provide additional revenue streams for rural communities, potentially making them self-sufficient, researchers say.

“Hydrogen and methane are clean sources of fuel and green chemical synthesis only if they are produced from renewable resources. At present, 96 per cent of hydrogen and all methane is produced using non-renewable resources,” says Associate Professor Akshat Tanksale from Monash University and research co-author.

“Microalgae as a feedstock is attractive due to its high carbon dioxide fixation efficiency, growth rate, photosynthetic efficiency, ability to grow in brackish water – like rivers and lakes – and the ability to cultivate it on land not suitable for agriculture.

“Water and renewable electricity integration with microalgae harvesting can bring down the costs and increase the sustainability of hydrogen production from this process.”

More details are accessible here.