Elijah then successfully converted the glucose into ethanol by fermentation with yeast.
2004 DCYSC Project: Escape Behavior of Newborn Fish
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Photo by V. Miller
Dec. 21, 2005

Ethanol from Biomass Using Mushrooms

Elijah Mena, 14, Gales Ferry, Conn.
Discovery Channel "Ice Age" Award, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2005
Project background: Ethanol is made from corn by breaking starch into glucose and converting the sugar with yeast. But the process is too expensive to compete with fossil fuels. Elijah discovered that the much more widely available cellulose—a main structural component of plants—could serve as an alternate source of glucose, but that it is much harder to produce. After his father explained how a mushroom smashed on his T-shirt created a hole because of enzymes that reacted with the cotton in the fabric, Elijah wondered if he could use the enzymes found in fungi to more easily convert the cellulose into glucose.
Tactics and results: Elijah made extracts of 11 different local fungi. He added cellulose (in the form of filter paper), and measured starting and final glucose concentrations with a glucose strip. After some success, he tried paper and hay as cellulose sources. The fungi were unable to convert these materials unless they were first boiled in weak acid.
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Photo by V. Miller
Here is another winning Investigatory Project

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Photo by V. Miller
Nov. 30, 2005
Solar Production of Hydrogen

Solar Production of Hydrogen from Seawater via Electrolysis

Nilesh Tripuraneni, 14, Fresno, Calif.Second Place, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2005
Project background: Nilesh had heard about hydrogen-powered cars but understood that producing hydrogen requires fossil fuels. He sought to find a more environmentally friendly approach through solar hydrogen production.
Tactics and results: Nilesh built a solar-powered device that ran an electric current through a beaker full of saltwater. The result: electrolysis, by which water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. By clever manipulation of various gas laws, Nilesh measured the temperature, pressure, and volume of hydrogen gas produced.
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Photo by V. Miller

Nilesh found that seawater produced almost as much hydrogen as solutions containing sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide.