Researchers discover organisms that could lead to low-cost hydrogen fuel production

August 20, 2013 0 By Tami Hood

Hydrogen fuel production could become more affordable thanks to halobacteria

Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory have discovered micro-organisms that could be responsible for reducing the costs associated with hydrogen fuel production. The organisms grow in the salt flats of Nevada and are linked to halobacteria. The proteins found in some strands of halobacteria act as a sort of proton pump, capturing sunlight and converting it into chemical energy, typically hydrogen. Researchers believe that these micro-organisms could reveal a new way to produce hydrogen fuel that could be less expensive than conventional production methods.

Reducing the costs associated with hydrogen fuel could win it more support

Hydrogen fuel has managed to garner a significant following in recent years, but there are still many that criticize hydrogen and suggest that it is not a suitable replacement for fossil-fuels, especially when other forms of renewable energy are readily available. Much of the criticism surrounding hydrogen fuel has to do with the cost of its production. Conventional production methods are somewhat expensive and rely heavily on fossil-fuels. As such, finding efficient and organic ways to produce hydrogen has become a significant focus of researchers around the world.

Halobacteria - Hydrogen FuelResearchers believe they are heading in the right direction with halobacteria

Argonne National Laboratory researchers believe that they can introduce titanium dioxide to the micro-organisms to encourage them to produce hydrogen fuel. Doing so would turn these organisms into tiny photocatalysts; harnessing the power of sunlight and using this energy to separate water into its chemical components of oxygen and hydrogen. While the organisms themselves may not be capable of producing massive quantities of hydrogen fuel, researchers believe that these organisms could be a step in the right direction concerning low-cost production.

Hydrogen infrastructure requires low-cost production techniques

Hydrogen fuel currently finds the majority of its support in the transportation sector. The global auto industry has been working to promote the benefits of hydrogen fuel and many automakers have been working to establish a fuel infrastructure for a new generation of hydrogen-powered vehicles. A comprehensive hydrogen fuel infrastructure requires low-cost fuel production methods. Thus far, most infrastructure building initiatives have relied entirely on older fuel production techniques.