Algae is usually thought of as a bad thing but turns out it can can be turned into biofuel and jet fuel. 

"Basically what we're doing is taking whole algae, harvested, and dried, and we're pressure cooking it. Kind of like you do with your turkey over Thanksgiving," said mentor to Yang Han and Research Professor Kent Hoekman.

Kent Hoekman and his student Yang Han have been turning algae into biofuel for the past couple of years -- fuel that could be used for things like driving your car, or even flying a plane.

They've had enough success for Han to win an award at the Algae Biomass Convention last month. It's a confidence boost for him.

"I would say the audience pushed me to be passionate about my work and so I take a lot of suggestions and upgraded my charts," said Han.

The research requires lots of hours in the lab, and as you can imagine it's pretty smelly in there. What happens is a mixture of water and algae is put in a reactor, a chemical reaction happens, and the oil then gets separated from the other gases and liquids through a process of filtration. 

The project is actually being funded by the country Qatar, an area known for producing another type of fuel. 

"They are very interested in it as are other Persian Gulf countries because they see a future once the oil runs out," said Hoekman. 

They are supplying Han with grown algae and shipping it to Nevada, but in order for algae to be our next fuel source it would still have to be refined and we would need a lot of it. 

"A little bit of pond scum on Lake Tahoe is not enough to to support an industry," said Hoekman. 

The goal of their research is to not only to maximize the amount of crude oil the algae can produce but also to make it better quality.