Scientists cook up enzyme cocktail to produce pure hydrogen gas

February 12th, 2009 - 2:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 12 (ANI): Scientists have cooked up a cocktail of enzymes to create hydrogen gas pure enough to power a fuel cell.

The team, from Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia, has produced hydrogen gas pure enough to power a fuel cell by mixing 14 enzymes, one coenzyme, cellulosic materials from nonfood sources, and water heated to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C).

The group announced three advances from their one pot process, which are - a novel combination of enzymes, an increased hydrogen generation rate, to as fast as natural hydrogen fermentation, and, a chemical energy output greater than the chemical energy stored in sugars the highest hydrogen yield reported from cellulosic materials.

In addition to converting the chemical energy from the sugar, the process also converts the low-temperature thermal energy into high-quality hydrogen energy like Prometheus stealing fire, said Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

It is exciting because using cellulose instead of starch expands the renewable resource for producing hydrogen to include biomass, said Jonathan Mielenz, leader of the Bioconversion Science and Technology Group at ORNL.

The researchers used cellulosic materials isolated from wood chips, but crop waste or switchgrass could also be used.

If a small fraction 2 or 3 percent of yearly biomass production were used for sugar-to-hydrogen fuel cells for transportation, we could reach transportation fuel independence, Zhang said. (ANI)

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