It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Like most plants, many varieties of algae are photosynthetic, which means they feed on sunlight and produce oxygen as a byproduct. Some species are algae are also mixotrophic, meaning they are able to derive energy both from photosynthesis and uptake of organic carbon.
It is this last characteristic that was of particular interest to French biochemist Pierre Calleja, who has spent several years developing an algae-powered street lamp that feeds on the vast amount of carbon emissions swirling around in our atmosphere.
The lamps are really more like massive tanks filled with water and algae. During the day, the algae feed on sunlight and C02 in the air and the resulting energy is stored in batteries connected to the tank. The stored energy is then used to power the lights at night.
What’s not exactly clear is how this process works. There are certainly examples out there of micro-algae being bred specifically to absorb carbon emissions (you can even try building this one if you have the DIY skills), but whether that includes this pet project of Calleja is unknown. Perhaps it involves a carbon sink making use of photosynthesis?
Now one thing there’s been some confusion on out there, and which this story originally got hung up on, is whether or not this could also be a self-powered lamp. In a lighted environment, the process that results could perhaps create energy, like a similar idea we wrote about back in 2010 that is inspired by a technique developed by scientists from Yonsei and Stanford University, that might possibly be stored in batteries connected to the tank. The stored energy could perhaps then be used to power the lights at night, though questions have been raised by some, such as at The Atlantic, on how viable this solution might really be.