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Biological production of hydrogen


Therebiological production of hydrogenit would seem an efficient and sustainable solution for the affirmation of the so-calledalternative energies.

Inbiological production of hydrogenthe ability of some living organisms to produce H. is exploited2 (hydrogen) through their natural metabolic processes.

An example is thebiological production of hydrogen starting frombacteriaThermotoga neapolitanas developed by the laboratories of Pozzuoli in the province of Naples (for further information: the bacterium mangiarifiuti). The scientific scenario is focusing on one way to produce clean hydrogen and efficiently, among the best ways biological seems to be among the most popular. At the same time, more convenient and safer ways of storing hydrogen are being sought.

Hydrogen as an alternative, clean and renewable energy source

At present, fossil fuels represent the largest energy source used by man. Fossil fuels are an energy source destined to run out and if we add to this the fact that fossil fuels are highly polluting, the need to look for new alternative energy sources arises. L'hydrogen seems to be a good candidate.

L'hydrogenit is a clean, renewable and low environmental impact energy source. L'hydrogenit has a high energy content per unit of weight and has "clean combustion": from the combustion of hydrogen the only product emitted is water vapor.

Biological production of hydrogen

There are many metabolic processes from which it is possible to obtain hydrogen, to name a few we report the fermentation, nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis of algae. It is precisely from algae that hydrogen can be produced directly and very efficiently. The unicellular green algae, exploiting sunlight, are able to exploit the reducing power of water necessary to reduce protons and synthesize hydrogen gas.

There biological production of hydrogen starting from algae it was observed for the first time in 1942. It was the scholar Gaffron who demonstrated how a culture of algae, adapted to the dark and under anaerobic conditions (deprived of oxygen), was able to produce hydrogen if illuminated again. The unicellular green algae are able to synthesize hydrogen thanks to particular enzymes that act as catalysts of the reaction that sees the formation of molecular hydrogen (H2 ) starting from the protons and electrons of the aqueous molecule.

Such enzymes are precisely calledhydrogenase.The only hitch that prevents the use of the biological production of hydrogen starting from these unicellular microorganisms lies in the photosynthetic system: the hydrogen molecule produced is only transient, after a few minutes the hydrogen is transformed back into a new molecule so as to complete the cycle ofphotosynthesis. To overcome this limit, researchers are trying to develop enzymes capable of stabilizing the hydrogen molecule. One idea consists in the development of hydrogenase (an enzyme capable of catalyzing the biological production of hydrogen) resistant to oxygen inhibition.

For the biological production of hydrogenmicrobiologists and geneticists are called upon to call, joining forces it would be possible to fully understand the genes that code for the enzyme hydrogenase so as to optimize the expression of the protein and identify, through mutational analysis, residues with a role in the resistance of the enzyme in the presence of oxygen in order to obtain a molecule of (H2 ) stable and no longer transitory.

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Video: Electrolysis: Producing hydrogen from water (October 2021).