Dr. Milton Sommerfeld works at ASU’s Polytechnic campus to pave the way for the future of energy production. His lab is testing strains of algae that use carbon dioxide, water, and the power of the sun to make hydrocarbons, the molecules at the foundation of our fossil fuel society that provide the energy for transportation, power generation and more.

Whereas the remains of ancient microorganisms take take millions of years to develop into crude oil underground, Dr. Sommerfeld turns algae into “Arizona crude” in days. From that Arizona crude, anything from diesel to jet fuel can emerge. And Algae has other benefits that fossil fuels can’t touch: when oil is extracted from the algae, biomass remains that can be used for everything from food to pigment.