Learn About The Enzyme That Can Turn Air Into Electricity
by Trisha Leigh
The world has been searching for cleaner and more efficient types of energy for several decades now. We’ve had some success using air, water, and the like, but I’m not sure anyone really considered whether or not enzymes could be the key to unlock its full potential.
That’s exactly what is detailed in this new study out of Australia, though, so buckle up for a wild little right.
Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne say they have discovered a new bacterial enzyme that transforms traces of hydrogen in the air into electricity. They believe the technology could be used to fuel pretty much anything in the future.
They released a statement that betrays their excitement at the discovery.
“We’ve known for some time that bacteria can use the trace hydrogen in the air as a source of energy to help them grow and survive, including in Antarctic soils, volcanic craters, and the deep ocean. But we didn’t know how they did this until now.”
They’ve dubbed the enzyme, which was extracted from Mycobacterium smegmati, Huc. It’s fairly common and very resilient, and is found in soil.
They discovered its ability using advanced molecular-mapping techniques.
“Huc is extraordinarily efficient. Unlike all other known enzymes and chemical catalysts, it even consumes hydrogen below atmospheric levels – as little as 0.00005 percent of the air we breathe.”
Their advanced microscopy techniques mapped the bacteria’s internal atomic and electric structures, which they called “the most resolved enzyme structure reported by this method to date.”
They say that Huc is so stable they think it could be used as sustainable battery power in the near future.
“When you provide Huc with more concentrated hydrogen, it produces more electrical current. Which means you could use it in fuel cells to power more complex devices, like smart watches, or smartphones, more portable complex computers, and possibly even a car.”
It’s intriguing, for sure, and their excitement is contagious.
I can’t wait to see where this line of research takes us next.