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Sun shines on a solution for hydrogen production
08 December 2008
UK scientists have made hydrogen from water in a simple experiment on a lab bench.
Fraser Armstrong, at the University of Oxford, and colleagues attached an enzyme and a light-harvesting dye to titanium dioxide particles to make a hydrogen-producing system powered by sunlight.
When light shines on the system, the titanium dioxide-bound enzyme produces hydrogen from water
Hydrogen is a promising future fuel because its production uses two globally abundant resources - water and sunlight, explains Erwin Reisner, from the Armstrong group. Generating hydrogen requires efficient catalysts, which need to be attached to light-trapping particles. 'There is a search for catalysts that do not use rare, expensive metals such as platinum,' says Reisner. 'Enzymes have long been a source of inspiration.'
- Erwin Reisner, University of Oxford, UK
Michael Hambourger, who designs bio-inspired devices for solar energy conversion and catalysis in Thomas Moore's lab at Arizona State University, Tempe, US, says the construct is ingenious. 'The stability of this hydrogenase when adsorbed on the titanium dioxide surface is intriguing,' he comments.
Reisner says that although the principle has been proved to work, scaling it up to make it a commercial reality will be a challenge. He wants to incorporate a water oxidation catalyst into the device, which he hopes will allow water splitting, producing both hydrogen and oxygen.
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Link to journal article
Catalytic electrochemistry of a [NiFeSe]-hydrogenase on TiO2 and demonstration of its suitability for visible-light driven H2 production
Erwin Reisner, Juan C. Fontecilla-Camps and Fraser A. Armstrong, Chem. Commun., 2009, 550
Also of interest
Enzymes could replace expensive platinum catalysts in hydrogen fuel cells, say scientists.
Japanese researchers have simplified and improved a common method for generating hydrogen gas, a potentially green energy source.
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