Progress in catalysis research
A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and the MPI für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr have succeeded in optimizing naturally occurring catalysts (hydrogenases) for application.
Hydrogen as an energy vector. Hydrogen gas (H2) has been proposed as an ideal energy vector. It can be produced from water, ideally using renewable energy sources and using an efficient catalyst to split water into H2 and oxygen (O2).
The H2 produced can then be stored as a fuel and consumed in a fuel cell to produce electricity on demand generating harmless water as a waste product. This technology is already available and can reach high efficiencies. Unfortunately, the catalysts required are based on rare and expensive metals like platinum.
Bio-hydrogen. Nature also employs H2 as a fuel, but instead of using precious metals, living organisms utilize enzymes as catalysts, and the catalyst of choice for H2 cycling are the hydrogenases. The active center of these enzymes contains earth-abundant metals like nickel and/or iron and can operate as efficiently as platinum. However, hydrogenases are very sensitive to oxygen and cannot be handled under air, complicating manipulation of them and therefore limiting their use in technological applications.
Producing “easy-to-handle” hydrogenases. Very recently, a team from the Mülheim-based Max Planck Institutes (Mülheim Chemistry Campus) have discovered a way to protect these sensitive enzymes from oxygen damage. Treating the purified hydrogenase with strong oxidizing agents in the presence of sulfide converted it to an oxygen stable form.
Spectroscopic and electrochemical methods were used to characterize the oxygen-stable state obtained. The oxygen stable enzyme can then be stored and handled under air making it easy to employ in fuel cells or water splitting devices. This research provides a step forward towards the use of these enzymes in technological applications as well as in understanding the mechanism of inactivation by oxygen. It also provides clues for protecting synthetic molecular catalysts designed for hydrogen conversion and production.
The work was supported by the Max Planck Society and the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV (EXC1069) from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
Patricia Rodríguez-Maciá, Edward J. Reijerse, Maurice van Gastel, Serena DeBeer, Wolfgang Lubitz, Olaf Rüdiger, and James A. Birrell. Sulfide Protects [FeFe] Hydrogenases From O2 J. Am. Chem. Soc. (Just Accepted Manuscript) DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b04339
Dr. James Birrell
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion
Christin Ernst M.A. | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Energiekonversion
Gut microbiome regulates the intestinal immune system, researchers find
19.12.2018 | Brown University
Greener days ahead for carbon fuels
19.12.2018 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Different eras of civilization are defined by the discovery of new materials, as new materials drive new capabilities. And yet, identifying the best material...
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Life Sciences