Fraser Armstrong, Ph.D. and his research team at Oxford University have managed to develop a revolutionary bio fuel cell which promises clean and renewable energy. The bio fuel cell contains two electrodes that are covered with oxygen-sensitive FeFe hydrogenase enzymes. The enzymes are attached to the electrodes using strong covalent and non-covalent linkages to allow for fast electron transfers. The electrodes and enzymes are then placed within a container of air which has a 3% mixture of hydrogen. Typical hydrogen fuel cells require expensive metals to serve as a catalyst for electricity production but this one works fine with hydrogenase, which has roughly the same productivity rate but does not require complex fuel-separation membranes to operate. Current testing shows that the prototype fuel cell is capable of powering small electronic devices such as a wristwatch.
"We are at the tip of a large iceberg, with important consequences for the future, but there is still much to do before this generation of enzyme-based fuel cells becomes commercially viable. The idea of electricity from hydrogen in air, using an oxygen-tolerant hydrogenase is new, although other scientists have been investigating enzymes as electrocatalysts for years. Most hydrogenases have fragile active sites that are destroyed by even traces of oxygen, but oxygen tolerant hydrogenases have evolved to resist attack," said Armstrong.
News source: DailyTech