Some of nature’s smallest organisms have incredible capabilities and abilities that enable them to survive in all conditions. For example, some bacteria can absorb very small amounts of hydrogen in the air and use it as “internal fuel” in the absence of other nutritional opportunities.
This feature has been studied by scientists from Monash University in Australia. During their research, they sought to identify and isolate enzymes from the bacterium Mycobacterium smegmatis that allow them to absorb hydrogen and generate electricity. Potentially this could be electronic clocks, implants etc. It can be used to power low-power devices such as
It took five years for the scientists to return to the starting point several times. However, as a result, they succeeded in isolating the enzyme Huc. And further research on this enzyme has informed scientists about some striking aspects of this tiny power plant. “The Huc enzyme is like a battery that will never run out of charge,” the researchers write. “As long as there is even a small amount of hydrogen in the surrounding air, it will work.”
In addition, the enzyme is surprisingly stable, can be frozen or heated to 80 degrees Celsius and does not lose its ability to recycle hydrogen. “This is what helps many bacteria survive in extreme environmental conditions,” the researchers write.
Currently, scientists have managed to isolate only a small amount of Huc enzyme from bacteria, but this was enough to measure many properties and characteristics, including the amount of electricity produced.
In the early stages, these enzyme-based power supplies could replace batteries that power small-sized electronic devices. However, with the development of mass production technology, it will be possible to obtain an enzyme of such concentration that the electricity it produces will be sufficient to drive an electric car.
“All of this is at hand,” the researchers write. “Hydrogen acts as a fuel, and the Huc enzyme will work as a highly efficient ideal catalyst. The main technical task will be to provide the vehicle with enough hydrogen.”
According to preliminary data, production of the Huc enzyme will be simple and scalable to any reasonable level. Inexpensive plant components of natural origin remaining after the processing of agricultural products can be used as raw materials. And the effectiveness of the Huc enzyme far exceeds that of the best catalysts based on platinum and other rare and expensive metals.
The researchers write: “We cannot yet say what the final cost of a hydrogen fuel cell with a huc enzyme will be, but we assume it should be comparable to the cost of any other electronic device of this complexity.”
Source: Port Altele
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