Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

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

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Finding a new formula for concrete: Researchers look to bones and shells as blueprints for stronger, more durable concrete May 26th, 2016

Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission: The privately-funded space-based global wireless signal monitoring system will be developed by Deep Space Industries and UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory May 26th, 2016

Possible Futures

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Harnessing solar and wind energy in one device could power the 'Internet of Things' May 26th, 2016

Thermal modification of wood and a complex study of its properties by magnetic resonance May 26th, 2016

Finding a new formula for concrete: Researchers look to bones and shells as blueprints for stronger, more durable concrete May 26th, 2016

Announcements

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Finding a new formula for concrete: Researchers look to bones and shells as blueprints for stronger, more durable concrete May 26th, 2016

Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission: The privately-funded space-based global wireless signal monitoring system will be developed by Deep Space Industries and UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory May 26th, 2016

Environment

The next generation of carbon monoxide nanosensors May 26th, 2016

Novel functionalized nanomaterials for CO2 capture May 10th, 2016

First single-enzyme method to produce quantum dots revealed: Biological manufacturing process, pioneered by three Lehigh University engineers, produces equivalent quantum dots to those made chemically--but in a much greener, cheaper way May 9th, 2016

Los Alamos National Laboratory Expands Scope to Locus Technologies SaaS Contract: Los Alamos National Laboratory Adds Two New Applications to Locus SaaS Platform May 7th, 2016

Energy

Harnessing solar and wind energy in one device could power the 'Internet of Things' May 26th, 2016

Gigantic ultrafast spin currents: Scientists from TU Wien (Vienna) are proposing a new method for creating extremely strong spin currents. They are essential for spintronics, a technology that could replace today's electronics May 25th, 2016

Light can 'heal' defects in new solar cell materials: Defects in some new electronic materials can be removed by making ions move under illumination May 24th, 2016

Technique improves the efficacy of fuel cells: Research demonstrates a new phase transition from metal to ionic conductor May 18th, 2016

Fuel Cells

Technique improves the efficacy of fuel cells: Research demonstrates a new phase transition from metal to ionic conductor May 18th, 2016

Ruthenium nanoframes open the doors to better catalysts April 4th, 2016

Saving sunshine for a rainy day: New catalyst offers efficient storage of green energy: Team led by U of T Engineering designs world's most efficient catalyst for storing energy as hydrogen by splitting water molecules March 28th, 2016

Carbon leads the way in clean energy: Groundbreaking research at Griffith University is leading the way in clean energy, with the use of carbon as a way to deliver energy using hydrogen March 23rd, 2016

Alliances/Trade associations/Partnerships/Distributorships

The CEA Announces Expanded Collaboration with Intel to Advance Cutting-edge Research and Innovation in Key Digital Areas May 17th, 2016

Solliance realizes first up-scaled Perovskite based PV modules with 10% efficiency: Holst Centre, imec and ECN pave the road to upscaling Perovskite PV modules May 10th, 2016

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Expands Distribution Network in US and Internationally May 9th, 2016

Albertan Science Lab Opens in India May 7th, 2016

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







Car Brands
Buy website traffic