Following a new scientific development based on cellular research, scientists have discovered a new source of hydrogen. For this, researchers built tiny droplet-based microbial factories.
Meanwhile, in the normal course, algal cells use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen by photosynthesis. For the study, researchers used sugary droplets tightly filled with living algal cells to produce hydrogen, instead of oxygen, via photosynthesis.
With the potential of Climate Neutral Fuel, Hydrogen to serve as alternate Energy source
In fact, hydrogen displays the potential to be a climate neutral fuel. Due to this, hydrogen offers many possible uses as an energy source in the future. However, generating hydrogen requires a lot of energy, which is a major drawback. Therefore, green alternatives are sought and this discovery could serve to be an important step forward.
For the study, in each droplet, the research team trapped around ten thousand algal cells, which were packed together by osmotic compression. With burying of cells deep inside the droplets, oxygen level dropped to a level that switched on special enzymes called hydrogenases that seized the normal photosynthetic pathway to generate hydrogen. Thus, employing this approach, around a quarter of million microbial factories could be prepared using one milliliter of water. Typically, the size of these microbial factories is only one-tenth of a millimeter.
Meanwhile, the team coated a thin shell of bacteria on the living micro-reactors, in order to elevate the level of hydrogen generated. This coating of shell of bacteria were able to search for oxygen and, therefore increase the number of algal cells ready for hydrogenase activity.
Although at a nascent stage, the research provides a step forward towards the development of photobiological green energy under natural aerobic conditions.