Green algae possess an enzyme for producing hydrogen, called hydrogenase. Together with his colleagues, Thomas Happe engineers such enzymes in the test tube.
Hydrogen is considered as a potential energy carrier of the future. However, its mass production remains problematic. Bochum-based researchers have found a new approach for a process suited for industrial applications.
Researchers from Bochum have engineered a hydrogen-producing enzyme in the test tube that works as efficiently as the original. The protein – a so-called hydrogenase from green algae – is made up of a protein scaffold and a cofactor. The latter is the reaction centre where the substances that react with each other dock. When the researchers added various chemically synthesised substances to the protein scaffold, the cofactor spontaneously assembled.
The team headed by Dr Jens Noth and Prof Dr Thomas Happe at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum report the results in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”. The researchers intend to lay the foundation for artificial, hydrogen-producing enzymes that will one day be manufactured on an industrial level. Hydrogenases are very efficient producers of the potential energy carrier and can do without the expensive precious metal platinum which is currently required for hydrogen synthesis.
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