Nanotechnology Now







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

Feynman Prize Winners Announced! April 26th, 2015

New ASTM Standards Will Help Educate Present and Future Nanotechnology Workforces April 26th, 2015

Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors April 26th, 2015

QD Vision Wins 2015 Bronze Edison Award for Color IQ™ Quantum Dot Technology April 26th, 2015

Possible Futures

Printing Silicon on Paper, with Lasers April 21st, 2015

A glass fiber that brings light to a standstill: By coupling photons to atoms, light in a glass fiber can be slowed down to the speed of an express train; for a short while it can even be brought to a complete stop April 9th, 2015

Nanotechnology in Medical Devices Market is expected to reach $8.5 Billion by 2019 March 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology Enabled Drug Delivery to Influence Future Diagnosis and Treatments of Diseases March 21st, 2015

Announcements

Feynman Prize Winners Announced! April 26th, 2015

New ASTM Standards Will Help Educate Present and Future Nanotechnology Workforces April 26th, 2015

Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors April 26th, 2015

QD Vision Wins 2015 Bronze Edison Award for Color IQ™ Quantum Dot Technology April 26th, 2015

Environment

Nanoparticles Used to Improve Mechanical, Thermal Properties of Cellulose Fibers April 23rd, 2015

Young NTU Singapore spin-off clinches S$4.3 million joint venture with Chinese commercial giant March 23rd, 2015

New processing technology converts packing peanuts to battery components March 22nd, 2015

EU Funded PCATDES Project has completed its half-period with success March 19th, 2015

Energy

Pseudoparticles travel through photoactive material: KIT scientists measure important process in the conversion of light energy -- publication in Nature Communications April 24th, 2015

Scientists Use Nanoscale Building Blocks and DNA 'Glue' to Shape 3D Superlattices: New approach to designing ordered composite materials for possible energy applications April 23rd, 2015

'Holey' graphene for energy storage: Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity April 22nd, 2015

Expanding the reach of metallic glass April 22nd, 2015

Fuel Cells

Expanding the reach of metallic glass April 22nd, 2015

Newly-Developed Nanocatalysts Increase Performance of Fuel Cells April 16th, 2015

Cobalt film a clean-fuel find: Rice University discovery is efficient, robust at drawing hydrogen and oxygen from water April 15th, 2015

Research could usher in next generation of batteries, fuel cells University of South Carolina and Clemson reseachers uncover clean interfaces April 10th, 2015

Alliances/Partnerships/Distributorships

How can you see an atom? (video) April 10th, 2015

FibeRio and VF Corporation Form Strategic Partnership to Lead the Apparel and Footwear Markets in Nanofiber Technology April 8th, 2015

UK National Graphene Institute Selects Bruker as Official Partner: World-Leading Graphene Research Facility Purchases Multiple Bruker AFMs April 7th, 2015

NXP and GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announce Production of 40nm Embedded Non-Volatile Memory Technology: Co-developed technology to leverage GLOBALFOUNDRIES 40nm process technology platform March 24th, 2015

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