MIT program that's awesome. Using the waste CO2 from a power plant to grow algae for biofuel. It cuts down power plant smog, and recycles the waste carbon into another fuel.
Some neat tricks too:
Berzin and his coworkers â€œtailorâ€ algae to perform well at a specific power plant. They use a terrestrial cousin of a miniature bioreactor designed for the International Space Station. As algae grow inside the bioreactor, their environment is gradually shifted to conditions they will encounter at the plant. Within three months, the tailored algae are thriving on flue gases instead of air. No genetic engineering is involved. â€œWe just use the natural tendency of algae to adapt to any environment,â€ said Berzin.
I think there's going to be some huge overlap soon between bioengineering and energy applications. All non-nuclear non-geothermal energy we have is solar at the root.
Fossil fuels come from fossils (well, mostly old algae), which get their biomass from the sun. Getting some crazy plants to jack up the photosynthesis and/or create electricity directly will be a coup, and it should be totally possible.
I'm hoping we'll see cool new stuff from The MIT Energy Research Council soon.