Sara Volz, a 17-year-old from Colorado Springs, claimed the $100,000 grand prize with her innovative project. It essentially uses artificial selection to pinpoint which organisms are churning out the most fuel, bringing down the overall cost of algae biofuel. Even more surprising, it was developed primarily in her bedroom under a lofted bed. Continue reading for another picture, two videos and more information.
According to Inhabitat: “As dedicated a scientist as her adult colleagues, Sara Volz took to sleeping with the same light cycles that her algae required to grow. In a homemade lab under her loft bed, Volz grew algae in a medium containing the pesticide sethoxydim to kill the algae that produced low levels of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACCase), an enzyme that is important in lipid synthesis. The remaining algae could produce substantial amounts of oil that could make the biofuel commercially viable in the future. Since algae requires little land mass and comparatively few inputs to sustain, the biofuel stands as a great renewable alternative to petroleum.”