Outlook bright for hydrogen biofuel cell

Oct 24, 2005

British scientists say simple, cost-effective hydrogen biofuel cells could be developed from electrodes coated with a bacterial enzyme to oxidize hydrogen.

Traditional hydrogen fuel cells generate energy through chemical reactions involving oxygen and hydrogen, often using precious metals as catalysts for the reactions.

Now University of Oxford scientists say they've developed fuel cells using catalysts from biological organisms, or enzymes.

The researchers note most microbes utilizing hydrogen live in oxygen-poor environments, and their enzymes cannot tolerate oxygen. Carbon monoxide is harmful to the enzymes and conventional fuel cells.

Using a bacterial enzyme somewhat tolerant to oxygen, Fraser Armstrong and colleagues tested its catalytic activity in the presence of oxygen and carbon monoxide. The scientists created a simple fuel cell using that enzyme as a catalyst, and the resulting biofuel cell produced electricity, even without a membrane to separate hydrogen and oxygen and in the presence of high levels of carbon monoxide.

The results suggest the potential of developing simple hydrogen biofuel cells unaffected by carbon monoxide and able to run on highly contaminated hydrogen.

The research appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: TVs and second screens a bad combination for advertisers

Related Stories

Sunfire, Audi en route to synthetic fuel of future

Apr 28, 2015

How are scientific minds doing in coming up with a synthetic fuel as a viable alternative to petroleum? For some engineers, this is a long-held dream they refuse to dismiss. A Dresden-based company, sunfire, ...

Ether compounds could work like DNA on oily worlds

May 12, 2015

In the search for life beyond Earth, scientists have justifiably focused on water because all biology as we know it requires this fluid. A wild card, however, is whether alternative liquids can also suffice ...

Novel catalyst used to make styrene in one step

May 05, 2015

(Phys.org)—Styrene is an important industrial chemical. It is the precursor to polystyrene which is used in various every day plastic products, like disposable cups, packaging, and insulation. Over 18.5m ...

The history and development of batteries

Apr 30, 2015

Batteries are so ubiquitous today that they're almost invisible to us. Yet they are a remarkable invention with a long and storied history, and an equally exciting future.

Recommended for you

Probing Question: Is art an essential school subject?

May 25, 2015

For decades, "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic" were considered the most fundamental subjects in American K-12 schools. These days, in order to boost our nation's global competitiveness, many schools and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.