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'Wiring Up' Enzymes For Producing Hydrogen In Fuel Cells

Date:
November 21, 2007
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers are reporting the first successful "wiring up" of hydrogenase enzymes. Those much-heralded proteins are envisioned as stars in a future hydrogen economy where they may serve as catalysts for hydrogen production and oxidation in fuel cells. Their report describes a successful electrical connection between a carbon nanotube and hydrogenase.

Computer graphic representation of a single-walled carbon nanotube (elongated structure).
Credit: Courtesy of Michael J. Heben, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Researchers in Colorado are reporting the first successful "wiring up" of hydrogenase enzymes. Those much-heralded proteins are envisioned as stars in a future hydrogen economy where they may serve as catalysts for hydrogen production and oxidation in fuel cells.

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Their report describes a successful electrical connection between a carbon nanotube and hydrogenase.

In the new study, Michael J. Heben, Paul W. King, and colleagues explain that bacterial enzymes called hydrogenases show promise as powerful catalysts for using hydrogen in fuel cells, which can produce electricity with virtually no pollution for motor vehicles, portable electronics, and other devices.

However, scientists report difficulty incorporating these enzymes into electrical devices because the enzymes do not form good electrical connections with fuel cell components. Currently, precious metals, such as platinum, are typically needed to perform this catalysis.

The researchers combined hydrogenase enzymes with carbon nanotubes, submicroscopic strands of pure carbon that are excellent electrical conductors. In laboratory studies, the researchers demonstrated that a good electrical connection was established using photoluminescence spectroscopy measurements.

These new "biohybrid" conjugates could reduce the cost of fuel cells by reducing or eliminating the need for platinum and other costly metal components, they say.

The journal article, "Wiring-Up Hydrogenase with Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes" is scheduled for the Nov. issue of ACS' Nano Letters.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "'Wiring Up' Enzymes For Producing Hydrogen In Fuel Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119100338.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2007, November 21). 'Wiring Up' Enzymes For Producing Hydrogen In Fuel Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119100338.htm
American Chemical Society. "'Wiring Up' Enzymes For Producing Hydrogen In Fuel Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119100338.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

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