Structural basis for bacterial energy extraction from atmospheric hydrogen
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp
Date: April 03, 2023 10:38AM
Scientists from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, identified an enzyme that uses small amounts of hydrogen to create an electrical current. If utilized properly, the enzyme can make energy from thin air and support a new source of sustainable power.
The scientists extracted the enzyme Huc found in the bacteria Mycobacterium smegmatis. It is responsible for using traces of atmospheric hydrogen to convert them to an electrical current. They were able to map out its molecular hydrogen oxidation blueprint and determine its atomic structure along with the electrical pathways. To demonstrate how the enzyme works, they used electrochemistry to create electricity using small amounts of hydrogen concentrations. Results showed that Huc can serve as a natural battery to produce sustained electrical current from the air of added hydrogen.
Furthermore, the scientists found that Huc could be stored for long periods, is very stable, withstands freezing and high temperatures, and retains its power to generate energy. These findings provide opportunities for researchers to develop alternative ways to produce power using air that can complement existing renewable energy like solar power.
Structural basis for bacterial energy extraction from atmospheric hydrogen | Nature