Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

May 19, 2011 17:45 ET

Regina's Huda High Student's Research on Hydrogen Sourcing Earns Manning Innovation Achievement Award Today in Toronto

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2011) - A Grade 11 student at Regina's Huda School Thursday won a 2011 Manning Innovation Achievement Award (www.manningawards.ca) at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Moaaz Rashad was recognized for his research on the potential use of algae to generate hydrogen as an alternative fuel.

Rashad was among 509 finalists competing with 425 projects at the 50th annual national science fair held this week at Seneca College in Markham, Ontario. Along with his $500 prize from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, he received a Canada-Wide Science Fair Bronze Medal and offers of two university entrance scholarships for his innovative research project.

"Canada's future success and ability to grow depends on its capacity to innovate in all sectors and is the fundamental reason for the existence of the Manning Innovation Awards Foundation—to support, celebrate and encourage Canadians with the imagination to innovate and the stamina to succeed," said Foundation President David B. Mitchell. "This is especially important for the young bright minds we meet annually at the Canada Wide Science Fair."

Rashad explained that "renewable energy resources, nuclear power and hydrogen have appeared to be the most feasible alternatives for fossil fuels, and the least understood and developed is arguably hydrogen, primarily due to the difficulty involved with extracting and using adequate quantities of the gas." He added that "currently most hydrogen is extracted from a fossil fuel such as natural gas, making it counterproductive."

His research investigated the feasibility of using algae, specifically Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to produce hydrogen under different conditions: depriving the algae of sulphur, adding copper, using inert gases and adding various algaecides to prevent photosynthesis. Rashad explained that in these conditions, eventually oxygen is depleted and the algae are forced to use a form of anaerobic metabolism. Using light energy, the algal enzyme hydrogenase converts hydrogen ions in the water into molecular hydrogen.

Rashad concluded that the use of copper sulphate pentahydrate was the most feasible of the approaches he studied, and the continued use of the copper additive sustained ongoing production of hydrogen from the algae. Extrapolating from his results, he suggested that an Olympic swimming pool-sized tank of algae would be able to produce 300,000 litres of hydrogen per day.

While Rashad's results are promising, he notes that more work will be required to make the process economical and to optimize the conditions for continuous and substantial generation of hydrogen gas.

NOTE TO MEDIA

For more information or to interview students, please contact the undersigned.

The spokesperson for Youth Science Canada/Science jeunesse Canada is Reni Barlow, Executive Director: 866-341-0040 Extn 230 or communications@ysf-fsj.ca

About the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation: The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation recognizes the importance of Canadian innovation in strengthening our nation's capacity to compete in the global economy. The Foundation supports and celebrates Canadians with the imagination to innovate and the stamina to succeed. Visit www.manningawards.ca for more information.

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