Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic Enzyme Shows Promise As Way To Make Hydrogen Cheaply

Date:
October 8, 1999
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A look-alike enzyme active site synthesized by scientists at the University of Illinois may move the world much closer to an energy-efficient, hydrogen-based economy.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A look-alike enzyme active site synthesized by scientists at the University of Illinois may move the world much closer to an energy-efficient, hydrogen-based economy.

Amid growing concerns over pollution and energy shortages, an economy based on clean-burning hydrogen fuel could curb future energy crises and ease global warming. But scientists have been stymied in their attempts to develop a process for producing an inexpensive and abundant supply of this gas, even though it is the most common element in the universe. Current manufacturing methods -- such as electrolysis and the catalytic stripping of hydrogens from hydrocarbons, are both costly and inefficient.

"Fortunately, nature has already solved the problem by designing numerous microorganisms that efficiently make or use hydrogen in support of their metabolic activities," said Thomas Rauchfuss, a professor of chemistry and a researcher at the university's materials research laboratory. "If we can fully understand how this natural process works, perhaps we can duplicate it commercially."

About two years ago, the hydrogen-producing enzymes for several microorganisms were isolated, purified and crystallized. "Late last year and early this year, the chemical structures for two of these big biological catalysts were announced, and it was as though the curtains had been drawn back," Rauchfuss said. "We immediately went to our lab and began efforts to make a look-alike for the natural catalyst."

Rauchfuss and his fellow molecule makers -- visiting postdoctoral research associate Michael Schmidt and graduate research assistant Stephen Contakes -- have successfully synthesized much of the active site of one hydrogenase enzyme.

The researchers presented their results at the American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans, Aug. 22-26. A paper reporting their findings is scheduled to appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Like the original enzyme, the hydrogenase look-alike contains an integral metal-metal bond, connected to several ligands -- including iron sulfide, carbon monoxide and cyanide. "Nature really designed an amazing structure," Rauchfuss said. "Carbon monoxide and cyanide are poisons. This enzyme is not something you would normally associate with life."

Unlike the original enzyme, however, the new version does not yet fully function as a catalyst. "We can get it to spit out some hydrogen, but then it stops for some reason," Rauchfuss said. "We don't yet know how to make the system 'turnover' for continuous hydrogen production."

Because the synthetic replication process is still in the early stages of development, "there is considerable room for improvement," Rauchfuss said. "For example, the natural enzyme contains thousands of atoms, whereas our synthetic version contains only 25 atoms, so it is not surprising that our simple model is not perfect. But this is a very big step in the right direction."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Synthetic Enzyme Shows Promise As Way To Make Hydrogen Cheaply." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991008075716.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (1999, October 8). Synthetic Enzyme Shows Promise As Way To Make Hydrogen Cheaply. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991008075716.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Synthetic Enzyme Shows Promise As Way To Make Hydrogen Cheaply." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991008075716.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins