Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > UT Knoxville and ORNL researchers turn algae into high-temperature hydrogen source

This image shows the process by which Photosystem I in thermophilic blue-green algae can be catalyzed by platinum to produce a sustainable source of hydrogen. The system was highlighted in a paper by University of Tennessee, Knoxville research Barry Bruce, et al. in Nature Nanotechnology.

Credit: Barry D. Bruce/University of Tennessee, Knoxville
This image shows the process by which Photosystem I in thermophilic blue-green algae can be catalyzed by platinum to produce a sustainable source of hydrogen. The system was highlighted in a paper by University of Tennessee, Knoxville research Barry Bruce, et al. in Nature Nanotechnology. Credit: Barry D. Bruce/University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Abstract:
Platinum-catalyzed photosynthetic process creates high-yield sustainable source of hydrogen

UT Knoxville and ORNL researchers turn algae into high-temperature hydrogen source

Knoxville, TN | Posted on November 14th, 2009

In the quest to make hydrogen as a clean alternative fuel source, researchers have been stymied about how to create usable hydrogen that is clean and sustainable without relying on an intensive, high-energy process that outweighs the benefits of not using petroleum to power vehicles.

New findings from a team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, show that photosynthesis - the process by which plants regenerate using energy from the sun - may function as that clean, sustainable source of hydrogen.

The team, led by Barry Bruce, a professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology at UT Knoxville, found that the inner machinery of photosynthesis can be isolated from certain algae and, when coupled with a platinum catalyst, is able to produce a steady supply of hydrogen when exposed to light.

The findings are outlined in this week's issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Bruce, who serves as the associate director for UT Knoxville's Sustainable Energy and Education Research Center, notes that we already get most of our energy from photosynthesis, albeit indirectly.

The fossil fuels of today were once, millions of years ago, energy-rich plant matter whose growth also was supported by the sun via the process of photosynthesis. There have been efforts to shorten this process, namely through the creation of biomass fuels that harvest plants and covert their hydrocarbons into ethanol or biodiesel.

"Biofuel as many people think of it now -- harvesting plants and converting their woody material into sugars which get distilled into combustible liquids -- probably cannot replace gasoline as a major source of fuel," said Bruce. "We found that our process is more direct and has the potential to create a much larger quantity of fuel using much less energy, which has a wide range of benefits."

A major benefit of Bruce's method is that it cuts out two key middlemen in the process of using plants' solar conversion abilities. The first middle man is the time required for a plant to capture solar energy, grow and reproduce, then die and eventually become fossil fuel. The second middle man is energy, in this case the substantial amount of energy required to cultivate, harvest and process plant material into biofuel. Bypassing these two options and directly using the plant or algae's built-in solar system to create clean fuel can be a major step forward.

Other scientists have studied the possibility of using photosynthesis as a hydrogen source, but have not yet found a way to make the reaction occur efficiently at the high temperatures that would exist in a large system designed to harness sunlight.

Bruce and his colleagues found that by starting with a thermophilic blue-green algae, which favors warmer temperatures, they could sustain the reaction at temperatures as high as 55 degrees C, or 131 degrees F. That is roughly the temperature in arid deserts with high solar irradiation, where the process would be most productive. They also found the process was more than 10 times more efficient as the temperature increased.

"As both a dean and a chemist, I am very impressed with this recent work by Professor Bruce and his colleagues," said Bruce Bursten, dean of UT Knoxville's College of Arts and Sciences. "Hydrogen has the potential to be the cleanest fuel alternative to petroleum, with no greenhouse gas production, and we need new innovations that allow for hydrogen to be readily produced from non-hydrocarbon sources. Professor Bruce and his team have provided a superb example of how excellence in basic research can contribute significantly to technological and societal advances."


###

Co-authors on the paper along with Bruce include Infeyinwa Iwuchukwu, a UT Knoxville graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering; Michael Vaughn, a research technician; Natalie Myers, a UT Knoxville graduate student in microbiology; Hugh O'Neill, a UT Knoxville-ORNL research professor and Paul Frymier, a UT Knoxville professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

####

About University of Tennessee at Knoxville
UT Knoxville buzzes with energy, ideas, and optimism. Great professors and students from throughout the world live and work in a friendly, safe campus community located in scenic East Tennessee. The campus and its signature "Hill" lure students with green space, nearby lakes, and vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Students enjoy provocative speakers, great entertainers and artists, a first-class research library, a technology-rich infrastructure, great local music and recreation, nationally competitive athletic teams, and abundant opportunities for community service.

The university is a co-manager with Battelle of the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Faculty and students experience unparalleled research and learning opportunities at the Department of Energy's largest science and energy lab.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jay Mayfield

865-974-9409

Copyright © Eurekalert

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. July 29th, 2014

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

A new way to make microstructured surfaces: Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties July 29th, 2014

Possible Futures

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Surface Characteristics Influence Cellular Growth on Semiconductor Material March 12th, 2014

Announcements

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. July 29th, 2014

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

A new way to make microstructured surfaces: Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties July 29th, 2014

Environment

Iranian Scientists Use Waste Cotton Fibers to Produce Cellulose Nanoparticles July 29th, 2014

Production of Toxic Gas Sensor Based on Nanorods July 28th, 2014

Researchers Use Various Zinc Oxide Nanostructures to Boost Efficiency of Water Purification Process July 13th, 2014

Using Sand to Improve Battery Performance: Researchers develop low cost, environmentally friendly way to produce sand-based lithium ion batteries that outperform standard by three times July 8th, 2014

Energy

Oregon chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution: Solution-based inorganic process could drive more efficient electronics and solar devices July 21st, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

3-D nanostructure could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage: Rice U. researchers predict functional advantages of 3-D boron nitride July 15th, 2014

Nanotechnology that will impact the Security & Defense sectors to be discussed at NanoSD2014 conference July 8th, 2014

Fuel Cells

Media Advisory: Minister Rempel to Announce Support for Alberta's Nanotechnology Sector June 20th, 2014

Evolution of a Bimetallic Nanocatalyst June 6th, 2014

University of Surrey collaborates with India and Tata Steel to revolutionise renewable energy March 26th, 2014

Novel membrane reveals water molecules will bounce off a liquid surface: Study may lead to more efficient water-desalination systems, fundamental understanding of fluid flow March 16th, 2014

Alliances/Partnerships/Distributorships

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Names NanoSperse as A SWeNT Certified Compounder July 29th, 2014

ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering™: Brand-new journal names editor July 29th, 2014

A*STAR and industry form S$200M semiconductor R&D July 25th, 2014

Organometallics welcomes new editor-in-chief: Paul Chirik, Ph.D. July 22nd, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE