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I'm trying to construct an anaerobic kitchen-waste digester at home.

The major output from the digester is methane - with a significant component of carbon dioxide. To scrub/reduce the CO2 I was thinking of passing the methane through a freshwater container charged with algae ... then it occurred to me to also think of introducing some bioluminescent algae to drive the photosynthesis & absorb some of the oxygen released by the other algae. Understandably this would be an unbalanced system.

But ... can bioluminescence drive photosynthesis?

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Sounds like an interesting project. But why not just expose the algae to sunlight? – Poshpaws Oct 31 '12 at 10:32
Also, what are you going to do with the methane? – Poshpaws Oct 31 '12 at 10:35
Don't laugh. I forgot why I didn't want to expose the algae to sunlight ... To answer the second question - burn it! – Everyone Oct 31 '12 at 16:28
This mainly depends on three things: The emission wavelength of the bioluminescence, the intensity of the bioluminescence and the optimum wavelength of the photosynthesis. I don't have actual numbers, but my educated guess is that the bioluminescence, even if the wavelengths fit, is way to weak to show an effect. – Eekhoorn Oct 31 '12 at 17:08
this is like asking if opening a refrigerator in the kitchen can cool the kitchen. it can, but only if you spend a lot of energy. – shigeta Oct 31 '12 at 21:49
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes and no. Yes as in the energetics do work out and you will be going down a small but non-trivial driving force as long as you continue to provide the luciferin to the algae.

However, the wavelengths of light by which photosynthesis absorbs its energy are well defined and narrow. As a result, light sources for photosynthetic organisms have to be fairly strong and bright to cover the whole spectrum to provide the necessary light. As a result, your bioluminescent algae will also have to emit light at the desired wavelength to achieve a high photochemical efficiency and provide light to both Photosystem II and Photosystem I which have different wavelength requirements.

enter image description here

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"Marine species tend to emit light of wavelength between 440 and 479 nm (bluish), which is the range of greatest optical transparency of seawater." - So it's in the correct wavelength range, but I'm with shigeta - it's not going all that efficient (unless, of course, there's the possibility for breeding brighter algae). – MCM Oct 31 '12 at 22:39

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