Energy, Efficiency, the Future, and the Idea

The Idea

My idea is to modify algae so it produces sulphur and contains melanin. This algae in theory should be able to produce hydrogen why consuming the energy of the nuclear decay. These algae will be in a container with suspended in solution of water and electrolytes (most likely salt). The water can be sources from the ocean. A filtration process will be necessary to use the sea water. The algae may or may not need to be in direct sunlight in order to produce hydrogen.

The will be a smaller container inside the larger container that contain nuclear waste. Finally there will be anode and cathode that has a DC current running through it.The electric current will attract the hydrogen molecules (at the cathode) and the oxygen molecule (at the anode). The hydrogen and oxygen will be collected and stored.

The inner wall of this cell will be either a plastic or glass. The outer wall needs to be thick steel. Finally the whole container will need to be put into a thick concrete wall. The cells can be places into a grid system where each cell can be monitored for performance.

This project will not only produce hydrogen, it will put nuclear waste to work. Any surplus energy not used in the electric grid can then be stored as hydrogen. This idea takes several sources of energy and combines it into a single versatile product. To turn hydrogen from car fuel to rocket fuel is only a matter of compressing the hydrogen. Hydrogen has always been an important source of energy for our world; all you have to do is look up at the sun.


In today’s society we are dependent on two main vessels for our energy, electricity and combustibles. (Gasoline, ethanol, kerosene, etc) . Both of these vessels for our energy system have advantages and disadvantages. Electricity powers our light sources, computers, and just about everything has some sort of electrical component, but electricity is difficult/ inefficient to store. The most common way to store electricity is through batteries. Batteries are good at powering small object like phones, and tv remote controls. The moment energy consumption grows, the batteries grow exponentially. In my observation, batteries are either to weak, too heavy, or too expensive to effectively power everything in our society.

On the other hand, combustibles are energy dense, and relatively easy to store. Combustibles fill the gaps where electricity is not effective.Today’s society is good at burning these fuels, but they require excellent ventilation. Without proper ventilation the area will fill with poisonous gas and eventually burn up all the oxygen needed for the combustion reaction. The most common and best source of combustibles is fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are limited in supply and becoming more difficult to extract. There is also a large ethnocentric conflict involving supplies of fossil fuels.

The point of view is not complete and cannot truly represent the vast energy system that we use, but it gives the point that electricity cannot solve all our problems alone, and neither can combustibles


The entire nuclear industry produces around 2000 metric tons of nuclear waste per year. The nuclear waste requires special treatment and security. The most common disposal solution for nuclear waste, in the US, is hollowing out a mountain or digging a hole burying it. This disposal requires constant security and monitoring. This system of disposal generates no tangible goods or services. This disposal method is a necessary operating cost of nuclear energy.This is economically inefficient because even if the nuclear industry produces no profit, someone need to be paying the storage bills. This issue not a pressing issue in today’s society, but an issue I can help alleviate.

The Future

Hydrogen can produce electricity and it is combustible. It is slightly more difficult to store than liquid combustible, and contains better energy density than the best combustibles on the market today. Hydrogen is an ideal fuel except for a couple of drawbacks. The storage of hydrogen can be dangerous. The compression of hydrogen can be energy intensive, and hydrogen is not energy efficiency to produce without fossil fuels.

Most of the hydrogen produced today is created through a process called steam reforming. This process takes methane and water and yields hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This process is the best option at producing hydrogen for non-energy consumption. In the terms of the whole energy system, combusting the methane is the better option. The steam reforming process is not perfectly efficient. There are other ways to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels, but steam reforming is the primary way.

The best way to produce hydrogen without the use of fossil fuels is through a process called electrolysis. This process involves electricity being passed through water. The hydrogen and oxygen split up and collect over the electrodes. This process does not need fossil fuels, but there is major setback with this process. Nearly 30%-50% of the input energy is lost in the process. This process is not efficient. This lost energy would be better used than stored as hydrogen.

There are a few other ways to produce hydrogen including algae. Algae will produce hydrogen when it is deprived from Sulphur. This is where my idea starts.

The Chernobyl disaster showed the world the importance of safety in nuclear reactions, but it did yield at least one interesting result. Within the destroyed reactor, mold grew. This mold was not only living but thriving in this poisoned environment. Upon further inspection, the mold was found to contain melanin. Melanin is the chemical that gives our skin color. The scientist found that when a mold contains melanin, it can use the radioactive decay to help produce energy.