Abhishek Shirali / Flickr

For some, algae can be a lakeside nuisance. But for a team of University of Michigan research, it might be the key ingredient for a new fuel.

The National Science Foundation recently granted a $2 million grant to a group of ecologists, engineers, and biologists to investigate green algae’s potential as a biofuel.

The main goal for the researchers: Find what combinations of algae make the most efficient fuel source.

From the University of Michigan’s News Service:

“People have suggested that species diversity might increase the efficiency of algal biofuel systems, but nobody has set up the experiments to test it directly. These will be the first experiments to systematically manipulate the number and types of species in the system to determine how to maximize the yield and stability of algal biofuel,” said ecologist and team leader Bradley Cardinale.


A significant amount of blue-green algae is expected in the western basin of Lake Erie this summer. This year’s algal bloom will be about 1/5 as bad as what happened in 2011.

2011 was one of the worst years on record for the explosions of algae growth.

Christoph Benning, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU
Courtesy: Michigan State University

Michigan State University researchers are celebrating the marriage of a weed and an algae gene -- and its value as a potential biofuel. 

The team found that adding an algae gene to mustard weed caused the plant to store oil in its leaves, and the technique could be used to get more energy out of plants grown for bio-fuel.