Combining bacterial genes and virus shell creates a highly efficient, renewable material used in generating power from water
Scientists at Indiana University have created a highly efficient biomaterial that catalyzes the formation of hydrogen — one half of the “holy grail” of splitting H2O to make hydrogen and oxygen for fueling cheap and efficient cars that run on water.
A modified enzyme that gains strength from being protected within the protein shell — or “capsid” — of a bacterial virus, this new material is 150 times more efficient than the unaltered form of the enzyme.
The process of creating the material was recently reported in “Self-assembling biomolecular catalysts for hydrogen production” in the journal Nature Chemistry.
“Essentially, we’ve taken a virus’s ability to self-assemble myriad genetic building blocks and incorporated a very fragile and sensitive enzyme with the remarkable property of taking in protons and spitting out hydrogen gas,” said Trevor Douglas, the Earl Blough Professor of Chemistry in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry, who led the study. “The end result is a virus-like particle that behaves the same as a highly sophisticated material that catalyzes the production of hydrogen.”
Other IU scientists who contributed to the research were Megan C. Thielges, an assistant professor of chemistry; Ethan J. Edwards, a Ph.D. student; and Paul C. Jordan, a postdoctoral researcher at Alios BioPharma, who was an IU Ph.D. student at the time of the study.
The genetic material used to create the enzyme, hydrogenase, is produced by two genes from the common bacteria Escherichia coli, inserted inside the protective capsid using methods previously developed by these IU scientists. The genes, hyaA and hyaB, are two genes in E. coli that encode key subunits of the hydrogenase enzyme. The capsid comes from the bacterial virus known as bacteriophage P22.
The resulting biomaterial, called “P22-Hyd,” is not only more efficient than the unaltered enzyme but also is produced through a simple fermentation process at room temperature.
The material is potentially far less expensive and more environmentally friendly to produce than other materials currently used to create fuel cells. The costly and rare metal platinum, for example, is commonly used to catalyze hydrogen as fuel in products such as high-end concept cars.
“This material is comparable to platinum, except it’s truly renewable,” Douglas said. “You don’t need to mine it; you can create it at room temperature on a massive scale using fermentation technology; it’s biodegradable. It’s a very green process to make a very high-end sustainable material.”
In addition, P22-Hyd both breaks the chemical bonds of water to create hydrogen and also works in reverse to recombine hydrogen and oxygen to generate power. “The reaction runs both ways — it can be used either as a hydrogen production catalyst or as a fuel cell catalyst,” Douglas said.
The form of hydrogenase is one of three occurring in nature: di-iron (FeFe)-, iron-only (Fe-only)- and nitrogen-iron (NiFe)-hydrogenase. The third form was selected for the new material due to its ability to easily integrate into biomaterials and tolerate exposure to oxygen.
NiFe-hydrogenase also gains significantly greater resistance upon encapsulation to breakdown from chemicals in the environment, and it retains the ability to catalyze at room temperature. Unaltered NiFe-hydrogenase, by contrast, is highly susceptible to destruction from chemicals in the environment and breaks down at temperatures above room temperature — both of which make the unprotected enzyme a poor choice for use in manufacturing and commercial products such as cars.
These sensitivities are “some of the key reasons enzymes haven’t previously lived up to their promise in technology,” Douglas said. Another is their difficulty to produce.
“No one’s ever had a way to create a large enough amount of this hydrogenase despite its incredible potential for biofuel production. But now we’ve got a method to stabilize and produce high quantities of the material — and enormous increases in efficiency,” he said.
The Latest on: Hydrogen biofuel
via Google News
The Latest on: Hydrogen biofuel
- Coronavirus in NJ: Distilleries begin production on hand sanitizer to curb shortageon March 23, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Distilleries in New Jersey have been given the OK to produce crude hand sanitizer, which has disappeared off store shelves due to the coronavirus.
- Ethanol producers help produce hand sanitizer to combat COVID-19on March 23, 2020 at 2:47 pm
“All TTB-permitted [distilled spirits permittees] (including [alcohol fuel producers] and beverage [distilled spirits producers]) may manufacture hand sanitizer products that are comprised of ...
- Albany brewery set to mass produce hand sanitizeron March 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm
ALBANY -- Even though a promised ethanol delivery had not arrived by late afternoon Monday, brewers and other employees with the Pretoria Fields Collective were labeling bottles and procuring larger ...
- A milestone in ultrafast gel fabricationon March 23, 2020 at 8:27 am
Electrocatalysis is one of the most studied topics in the field of material science, because it is extensively involved in many important energy-related processes, such as the oxygen reduction ...
- A milestone in ultrafast gel fabrication from unconventional self-healing noble metal gelson March 23, 2020 at 4:31 am
Electrocatalysis is extensively involved in many important energy-related processes such as the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) for fuel cells, the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER ... first to ...
- Under the skin: How wheat can cut your car's CO2on March 22, 2020 at 5:08 pm
Talk to just about any emissions expert in the car industry and they’ll all agree on one thing. The quickest way to reduce CO2 emissions across a national or even global fleet of vehicles is to switch ...
- A wake-up call on green hydrogen: the amount of wind and solar needed is immenseon March 20, 2020 at 2:31 am
If governments want to increase the production of clean hydrogen, they will have to make two choices. The first would be whether to force its use through mandates, similar to the requirements for ...
- Cross-industry collaboration to focus on major hydrogen network in Germanyon March 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm
Transporting hydrogen in dedicated networks is something that has been carried out in Germany ... has agreed to acquire 100% of Mahoney Environmental (Mahoney), a collector and recycler of used… DSM, ...
- Liquid Biofuel Market to Reach Valuation of ~US$...on March 17, 2020 at 1:38 am
ALBANY, New York, March 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Majorly driven by the rise in the depletion of fuel reserve across the globe, the global liquid biofuel market is expected to ...
- World's first commercial green-hydrogen project using high-temperature electrolysis announcedon March 13, 2020 at 6:46 am
The first commercial-scale use of high-temperature solid-oxide electrolysers (SOE) is set for a biofuel refinery in the Netherlands. SOE technology offers highly efficient green-hydrogen production — ...
via Bing News