Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nature Points the way to a sustainable hydrogen economy

11.02.2005


“This is an exciting early step in developing a sustainable system for producing electricity from hydrogen” said Professor Chris Pickett (Associate Head of the Biological Chemistry Department at JIC). ”In Nature iron–sulphur enzymes catalyse a range of important chemical reactions that industry can only do by using precious metal catalysts and/or high temperatures and pressures. Based on Nature’s blueprint we are a step closer to building an iron-sulfur catalyst for reactions fundamental to a sustainable hydrogen economy”.



As a blueprint for their syntheses the JIC team used the known molecular structures of the catalytic centre - ‘the H-cluster’- found in the iron–only hydrogenase enzyme from two bacteria (Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and Clostridium pasteurianum). Hydrogenases catalyse interconversion of protons, electrons and hydrogen at extraordinary high rates. Their colleagues in Italy and the US [3] used state-of-the-art computational and spectroscopic techniques to probe the properties of the artificial H-cluster. The synthetic cluster was found to catalyse the reduction of protons to hydrogen albeit with poor energy efficiency. Nevertheless, the researchers believe their discovery should provide a lead to new materials that could eventually replace platinum.

[1] The John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK is an independent, world-leading research centre in plant and microbial sciences. The JIC has over 850 staff and students. JIC carries out high quality fundamental, strategic and applied research to understand how plants and microbes work at the molecular, cellular and genetic levels. The JIC also trains scientists and students, collaborates with many other research laboratories and communicates its science to end-users and the general public. The JIC is grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


[2] The US Department of Energy Report ‘Basic Research Needs for the Hydrogen Economy’ (May 2003) recognised long term strategic issues with respect to supply/demand for platinum, including security of supply. The September 2003 UK Department for Transport report ‘Platinum and Hydrogen for Fuel Cell Vehicles’ documented the need for both a dramatic decrease in platinum loading in fuel cells and 5% year on year growth of South African platinum production to meet modest scenarios for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over the next three decades. Small fuel cells for powering consumer products such as lap tops, mobile phones etc will be on the market in mid 2006 and the expected growth in this area will undoubtedly place further demands on platinum supply; as will in the longer term the impact of stationary fuel cell units for domestic or industrial gas to electricity conversion.

[3] Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milan-Biocca, Milan, Italy, Department of Physics, Washington State University and WR Wiley Environmental Science Laboratory and Chemical Science Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington, USA.

Ray Mathias | alfa
Further information:
http://www.jic.ac.uk
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>