Hydrogen use as a fuel needs its efficient production – inspiration from bacteria

Hydrogen atomResearchers have successfully utilized the natural processes to produce hydrogen for its eco-friendly and cheap utilization as a fuel.

This research has been published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists, in this study, worked on the bacteria, which has the ability to produce hydrogen from water with the help of enzymes called as di-iron hydrogenases. Some bacterial enzymes have the turnover number of hydrogen production from water as large as 10^4/s.

Scientists developed computer models to develop and design practical ways of utilizing such enzymes by the humans for the production of hydrogen from water and its efficient utilization.

For a long time, oxygen, during the process, was creating a problem. So, it was one of the initial steps to remove oxygen’s effects. In this recent study, scientists have removed the problem of catalysts’ poisoning by the oxygen affecting the efficiency of the design. They used “hydrogenase-inspired catalyst/electrode complex” ([FeFe]P/FeS2) and found through “simulations” that the designed complex has the ability to reduce oxygen. Moreover, this artificial hydrogen-producing catalyst can be made utilizing the abundant and cheap materials such as iron.

Researchers wrote,

“We report demonstration by ab initio simulations that the complex is indeed tolerant to dissolved oxygen over timescales long enough for practical application, reducing it efficiently. This promising hydrogen-producing catalyst, composed of earth-abundant materials and with a diffusion-limited rate in acidified water, is efficient as well as oxygen tolerant.”

Reference:

P. H.- L. Sit, R. Car, M. H. Cohen, A. Selloni, 2013. Oxygen tolerance of an in silico-designed bioinspired hydrogen-evolving catalyst in water. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1215149110