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 How molecules teeter in a laser field
18.01.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

nachricht Discovery of enhanced bone growth could lead to new treatments for osteoporosis
18.01.2019 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III

The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research

Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI

The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Additive manufacturing reflects fundamental metallurgical principles to create materials

18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

How molecules teeter in a laser field

18.01.2019 | Life Sciences

The cytoskeleton of neurons has been found to be involved in Alzheimer's disease

18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>