Thursday, October 26, 2006

A "gene" for extracting hydrogen?

Can a gene turn water into energy? discusses a development by Genexinh where they claim an ability to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen very cheaply. If true, if this pans out properly, it would be a very good result.

The stumbling block for the hydrogen economy is the problem of getting hydrogen. Hydrogen is everywhere, but it's hardly ever appearing as a gas by itself. The stars, like our Sun, are a perfect example of the hydrogen economy in action. The stars shine brightly for billions of years at a time, with no input of other fuels. Clearly that's an attractive option for powering our society.

On the surface of our planet hydrogen is always bound to something else. In water hydrogen is bonded with hydrogen, and there are a zillion other compounds having hydrogen in them. Running a fuel cell or other hydrogen based gizmo requires pure hydrogen.

There is an energy cost for extracting hydrogen from whatever molecules it is in. That energy cost is always higher than the energy you receive from using the resulting hydrogen as a fuel.

Genexinh has developed a way for a biological organism to do this. The advantage is the energy to extract hydrogen is supplied by the organism. By feeding the organism with light, water and food, it will extract hydrogen from water.


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