The U.S. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers have discovered a simpler, faster and far less costly way to measure manganese, a process which could have applications for biofuel production through the development of photosynthetic systems. “If we can easily characterize how much manganese there is in the natural system, we can start replacing the natural manganese with other metals such as iron to learn how the system works biochemically,” co-author and researcher Michael Seibert said.

In comparison to previous methods, the NREL process takes a half hour and uses equipment that costs less than $10,000 US. “It’s a new tool that makes life in the lab easier,” Seibert said. “It could help our lab and others make a lot more progress in understanding photosynthesis … and ultimately developing artificial photosynthetic systems.” (Source: NREL, July 2, 2009)

Contact: Michael Seibert, NREL, (303) 384-6279,, A simple colorimetric determination of the manganese content in photosynthetic membranes details