<b>Professor Ben Hankamer</b><br>
Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division<br>
Director, Breakthrough Science Program in Algal Biomedicine<br>
Co-Director, Breakthrough Science Program in Biomembrane Design<p>
P: +61 7 3346 2012<br>
E: b.hankamer@imb.uq.edu.au<p>
<b>Keywords</b><br>
- biofuels<br>
- biohydrogen<br>
- biodiesel<br>
- algae<br>
- bioreactors<br>
- biotechnology
Professor Ben Hankamer
Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division
Director, Breakthrough Science Program in Algal Biomedicine
Co-Director, Breakthrough Science Program in Biomembrane Design

P: +61 7 3346 2012
E: b.hankamer@imb.uq.edu.au

Keywords
- biofuels
- biohydrogen
- biodiesel
- algae
- bioreactors
- biotechnology

Bio-inspired design of solar fuel systems

One of the biggest global challenges facing society today is our need to develop more efficient and commercially viable renewable energy systems, which can improve energy security and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Our work aims to contribute to meeting this challenge, and we have turned to nature to help us do this.

Solar energy is by far the largest renewable energy source available to us—particularly in Australia—and has the potential to both meet and exceed future global energy demands. Our team is focused on developing solar fuel technologies that are able to tap into this huge solar energy resource and use it to produce a wide range of fuels, such as hydrogen, methane and oil-based fuels, including transport fuels.

The natural photosynthetic machinery of plants has evolved to capture solar energy and store it in the form of chemical energy (fuel). Plants that are very good at this are single-celled green algae (microalgae), which we use as a model natural fuel system and inspiration for developing next-generation bio-inspired artificial solar fuel technologies.

During 2013, our lab investigated the complex in vivo structure of the dynamic photosystems of plants through a multi-scale approach, using electron tomography (cellular structures), single particle analysis (macromolecular structures), and crystallographic data (atomic resolution structures). By merging these data sets, our aim is to produce a pseudo-atomic resolution model of these intricate and dynamic systems in their cellular context. This cellular 3D atlas will be used to guide and refine the design of higher efficiency algae-based and artificial solar energy systems that we hope will, in future, be able to contribute to meeting renewable fuel demand.

A major achievement for our lab in 2013 was launching our advanced Solar Biofuels Research Centre, located at UQ’s Pinjarra Hills site in Brisbane. The centre, which was officially opened by Premier Campbell Newman in April, provides an advanced microalgae facility where our lab will design and test microalgae-based systems as a source of clean fuels, and develop new ways to optimise production systems. These systems are also of benefit for the production of high-value products such as vaccines.

Make a difference to Professor Hankamer's research by donating today.

Research training opportunities

Please see IMB's postgraduate website for more information. 

Key publications

View more publications by Professor Hankamer via Pubmed or via UQ Researchers.

Larkum, A W.D., Ross, I., Kruse, O., and Hankamer, B. (2011). Selecting, breeding and engineering microalgae for bioenergy and biofuel production. Trends in Biotechnology 30: 198-205.  

Landsberg, M.J., Jones, S.A., Rothnagel, R., Busby, J.N., Marshall, S.D.G., Simpson, R.M., Lott, J.S., Hankamer, B., and Hurst, M.R.H. (2011). 3D structure of the Yersinia entomophaga toxin complex and implications for insecticidal activity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108: 20544-20549.
 
Stephens, E., Ross, I.L., King, Z., Mussgnug, J.H., Kruse, O., Posten, C., Borowitzka, M.A., and Hankamer, B. (2010). An economic and technical evaluation of microalgal biofuels. Nature Biotechnology 28: 126-128.
 
Landsberg, M.J., Ruggles, J.L., Hussein, W.M., McGeary, R.P., Gentle, I.R., and Hankamer, B. (2010). Molecular packing of functionalized fluorinated lipids in langmuir mono layers. Langmuir 26: 18868-18873.
 
Landsberg, M. J.; Vajjhala, P. R.; Rothnagel, R.; Munn, A. L.; Hankamer, B., Three-dimensional structure of AAA ATPase Vps4: Advancing structural insights into the mechanisms of endosomal sorting and enveloped virus budding, Structure, 2009, 17, 427-437.

Group contacts

Ms Rubbiya Ali
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62015
+61 7 334 62321
rubbiya@ali@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Emily Knauth
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62321
e.knauth@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Juliane Wolf
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62022
+61 7 334 62321
j.wolf@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Lou Brillault
Research staff
+61 7 334 62322
+61 7 334 62325
l.brillault@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Michael Landsberg
Research staff
+61 7 334 62010
+61 7 334 62321
m.landsberg@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Jennifer Yarnold
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62015
j.yarnold@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Tony Bui
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62321
+61 7 33 462325
t.bui@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Melanie Oey
Research staff
+61 7 334 62010
+61 7 334 62321
m.oey@uq.edu.au
Mr Eugene Zhang
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62321
+61 7 334 62325
e.zhang.imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Gamma Chi
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62321
+61 7 334 62325
g.chi@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Ian Ross
Research staff
+61 7 334 62010
+61 7 334 62321
i.ross@imb.uq.edu.au
 
Mr Alexander Foo
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62828
a.foo@imb.uq.edu.au
Mrs Rosalba Rothnagel
Research staff
+61 7 344 62010
+61 7 334 62321
r.rothnagel@imb.uq.edu.au
 
Professor Ben Hankamer
Group leader
+61 7 334 62012
b.hankamer@imb.uq.edu.au
Ms Anne Sawyer
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62321
+61 7 334 62325
a.sawyer@imb.uq.edu.au
 
Ms Gisela Jakob
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62321
+61 7 334 62325
g.jakob@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Evan Stephens
Research staff
+61 7 334 62022
+61 7 334 62321
e.stephens@imb.uq.edu.au
 
     

 

 

On this site