Researchers from University of California and Illinois have brought the world a step closer to using hydrogen fuel as a green fuel. The scientists have discovered 10 elements that make up the active sites within the enzyme. They are on the hunt to discover the last part of the puzzle – the 11th element.
Hydrogen fuel has shown tremendous promise as an alternative to fossil fuel. These are far cleaner and efficient than traditional fuels. Moreover, these are touted as potential saviours for electric vehicles. Their promise to reduce greenhouse emissions continues to inspire researchers to make new breakthroughs.
The new study published in the hournal of National Academy of Sciences promises something similar. The study states that hydrogenases are nature’s machinery for making and burning hydrogen gas. These enzymes come in two varieties. Among the two, the iron-iron variety does its job faster and that’s what the researchers chose to study.
A Catalyst for Future Research
According to Thomas Rauchfuss, the co-author of the study, biologically synthesized hydrogen shows tremendous potential. It is far more efficient than the current human-made process. Moreover, its attractiveness promises robust results for the complex industrial process that limits growth of hydrogen as an alternative fuel.
The researchers believed that 10 parts of the enzyme composition consisted of 4 carbon molecules, and more. Among the others, there are 2 cyanide molecules, 2 iron ions, and two groups of amino acids. The amino acids containing sulphur are called cysteine. Their belief stem from the conventional understanding of the enzymes.
However, they discovered that there are two carbon monoxide molecules, one cyanide ion, one iron ion, and one cysteine group occupied made up the chemical composition in reality. Additionally, these groups formed one tightly bonded unit and constituted for 10 parts.
Their research can pave for better understanding and application of other catalyst design projects. They also believe complex challenge of understanding await those who wish to reproduce hydrogen gas in labs.
A team of researchers from the Oregon health and Sciennce University also contributed to this study.