Narrator: This is Science Today. The U.S. Department of Energy is working on a plan that would eventually replace the internal combustion engine in favor of hydrogen-based fuel cells to power cars of the future. One of the limitations of hydrogen production has been that it's done in a non-renewable manner. But University of California, Berkeley plant biologist Tasios Melis, discovered a metabolic switch within green algae cells, which triggers the production of large quantities of hydrogen gas.
Melis: And this metabolic switch, when activated, permits the algae to produce hydrogen instead of oxygen.
Narrator: This works by depriving the algae of sulfur, which causes the algae to cease production of oxygen.
Melis: And after a short period of time, they activate the alternative pathway - the result of which is the production of hydrogen. So I think that's where our contribution is significant, because we have a process based on the biology of green algae and this process permits the production and accumulation of significant amounts of hydrogen.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.