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: 550-million-year-old fossils provide new clues about fossil formation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

20 hours ago

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

20 hours ago

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

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.