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article imageMaking low-cost hydrogen from bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Nov 11, 2013 in Science
The goal of making cheap hydrogen fuel has been often discussed. Given that some bacteria make hydrogen as a by-product, scientists have looked towards microbes for some answers.
The answer lies in a specially-made catalyst. The catalyst produced are based on precisely organized clusters of iron and sulfur atoms, with side groups of cyanide and carbon monoxide. Such a combination would be toxic to most organisms.
By utilizing a technique called "electron paramagnetic resonance," scientists can take a bacterial population and produce an iron-cyanide-carbon monoxide complex, which in turn produces hydrogen levels that can be captured in a fuel cell. Hydrogen is one of the candidates being considered for a new generation of biofuels, alternative sources of energy to carbon based oil products.
The research was undertaken at University of California, Davis, and Stanford University. The findings have been published in the journal Science, in a paper titled “Radical Intermediate in Tyrosine Scission to the CO and CN- Ligands of FeFe Hydrogenase.”
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