The next big thing in biofuels could be right in your own backyard.
For the second year, the Saint Louis Science Center is collaborating with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in a research project that “has the potential to discover algae species located within the St. Louis metro area which may be used in cutting-edge biofuels research.”
According to the center’s Life Science Gallery Lead Beth Prakash, “Backyard Biofuels” is a citizen science project. “We are looking for a species of algae that has a naturally high oil content,” she says. “So the more oil an algae species contains, the more productive it will be at producing biofuels.”
Last year, 169 algae collecting kits were returned to the Life Science Lab and from the samples they were able to isolate and test 105 individual algae strains, the results of which are posted on the Backyard Biofuels website. People can participate by picking up an algae collecting kit from the Life Science Lab at the Science Center and returning it in person, or mailing it in using special guidelines. The mail-in option is new this year and will help collect samples from a wider geographic area since the center receives visitors from all over the country.
Learn more about the program from Beth in this interview: Beth Prakash Interview