BETO 2021 Peer Review - Cyanobacteria Photosynthetic Energy Platform (

Research output: NRELPresentation


Cyanobacteria Photosynthetic Energy Platform (WBS The primary challenge in algal technology is low energy conversion efficiency, currently up to a few percentages from photon energy to biomass energy. Most incoming solar energy is lost in the processes of photosynthesis, through mechanisms that are not fully understood. There is large room for improvement. This project develops cyanobacteria genetic tools to improve photosynthetic efficiency and biomass productivity through manipulation of energy regulation mechanisms. Increasing algal biomass productivity by 20% translates to $2 reduction of MFSP. Genetic manipulation is an essential tool in understanding and improving algal productivity. While genetic manipulation is challenging for most algae, model cyanobacteria, with in-house mutant library and genetic engineering toolboxes, allow for rapid hypothesis testing and transfer of lessons to other cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae. We developed Energome (energy-ome) concept to guide novel engineering strategies and unleash unused potential in photosynthesis. Energome consists of cellular energy management mechanisms. For example, we found that cyanobacteria use futile cycles around glycogen and sucrose to dissipate ATP. By genetic modification, the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis 6803 showed higher energy levels, increased photosynthetic capacity, and 20% improvement in biomass yield in simulated outdoor light conditions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2021 Project Peer Review, 8-12, 15-16, and 22-26 March 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2700-79126


  • algal technology
  • cyanobacteria
  • energy conversion efficiency
  • eukaryotic algae


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