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Published on February 28th, 2009 | by Jeff Kart


A toast to the enzyme cocktail

February 28th, 2009 by  

Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Fuel cells and hydrogen were the buzz for years in U.S. automotive industry, until foreign competitors began making waves with hybrids.
Problems with the H included the high cost of infrastructure and the fossil-fuel energy needed to make hydrogen stations work.
That could change if new research on enzymes is realized. A team of scientists from Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Georgia has developed a way of producing hydrogen gas by combining enzymes and cellulosic materials from non-food sources with good old water, according to a news release.

They heat it up, call it an enzyme cocktail, and say it holds the promise of high-yield production, according to a research paper published in ChemSusChem (for Chemistry and Sustainability).

“Biohydrogen is produced in high yield from cellulosic materials and water in a one-pot process catalyzed by up to 14 enzymes and one coenzyme,” the abstract says.

“This assembly of enzymes results in non-natural catabolic pathways. These spontaneous reactions are conducted under modest reaction conditions (32 °C and atmospheric pressure).”

What do the chemistry folks out there think of this new find? Green Car Congress has quite a discussion going. 

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About the Author

is typing about issues in the Great Lakes, from advanced biofuels to zero-emission vehicles. Jeff is an environmental journalist and social media evangelist based in Michigan, where the summers are short, the winters are cold, and the stories are plentiful.

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