VaTech, D.O.E, Russians, collaborators study rare microorganism that produces hydrogen


An ancient organism from the pit of a collapsed volcano may hold the key to tomorrow’s hydrogen economy. Scientists from across the world have formed a team to unlock the process refined by a billions-year old archaea. The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute will expedite the research by sequencing the hydrogen-producing organism for comparative genomics.

When members of the Russian Academy of Sciences isolated a rare archaeal microorganism that breaks down cellulose and produces hydrogen, Biswarup Mukhopadhyay, an assistant professor with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, saw an opportunity to open a door for development of a cellulose-based high-temperature hydrogen production process. “Hydrogen can be easily converted to electrical and mechanical energy without any production of carbon dioxide,” said Mukhopadhyay, whose lab specializes in very high temperature or hyperthermophilic archaea and in energy production.

Promising research, indeed. VT’s Mukhopadhyay said, “This is just the beginning of an exploration of hitherto unknown processes with potential to advance energy production and having a team will make it more innovative, productive and fun.”

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h/t Free Republic

14 Responses

  1. I’m all for new sources of energy, but one has to look at the downside. The only emission from hydrogen as a fuel is water vapor, which happens to be the single greatest greenhouse gas. Do we really want vehicles and power plants spewing more of the gas that traps 80% of all radiant heat within the first thirty feet of atmosphere?
    It’s always something.

  2. hmmm. I thought the problem was cow farts.

  3. No, the problem is plasma TVs.

    Cows must be farting them.

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  5. When the “green meanies” expand their protests to include forest fires and volcanoes, we will know they are finally on the right path, and not just trying to stifle capitalism.
    The increased sales of DLP and LCD flat screen TV’s have really hurt my part-time job as a plasma donor for flat screens.

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