Scientists find enzyme that converts air into electricity

Inspenet, April 7, 2023

A group of Australian scientists has just found an enzyme capable of transforming air into energy. The enzyme, called Huc, uses small amounts of hydrogen in the atmosphere to produce an electrical current.

The study, published in the scientific journal Nature , mentions that the research team at Monash University’s Biomedical Discovery Institute in Melbourne produced and studied a hydrogen-consuming enzyme from a common soil bacterium called Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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Scientists find enzyme that converts air into electricity

Previous research by the team revealed that many bacteria use hydrogen from the atmosphere as a source of energy in nutrient-poor environments. However, they didn’t know how it was possible until Huc’s discovery. The researchers used advanced microscopy (cryo-EM) to determine the atomic structure and electrical pathways of the enzyme, and electrochemistry to show that the purified enzyme creates electricity from minute concentrations of hydrogen.

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HUC enzyme converts air into electricity

Huc is an incredibly efficient enzyme, being able to consume hydrogen below atmospheric levels, even as little as 0.00005% of the air we breathe, unlike all other known enzymes and chemical catalysts. The researchers also discovered that the Huc enzyme can be stored for long periods as it is highly stable, even under extreme conditions. The enzyme could be used as a “natural battery” to produce a sustained electrical current from air or hydrogen.

The discovery of the Huc enzyme has the potential to develop small air-powered devices as an alternative to solar-powered devices. The next goal of the group of scientists is to scale up the production of Huc enzymes to generate clean energy on a large scale.

Source and images : https://www.qore.com/noticias/86578/Cientificos-encuentran-enzima-que-convierte-aire-en-electricidad

Photo: ShutterStock

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