STATES CHRONICLE – The scientific world takes pleasure in finding new uses for previously underused things. After a recent study showed that Vitamin D may help cure MS, researchers from the Indiana University came up with a method to create a nano-reactor from E. coli and bacteria.
The new hydrogen biofuel created by the team of researchers led by Trevor Douglas, a chemist from the University of Indiana, proved be a very clean and inexpensive method to generate power from water.
This was accomplished by inserting two genes from Escherichia coli into a different virus – bacteriophage P22.
Viruses generally have a protective outer shell, called the capsid. The capsids are meant to protect the inner core of the virus from outside harm. A total of two genes – hyaA and hyaB – were removed from the E. coli bacteria, and scientists used them to make hydrogenase.
This is where the capsid comes in, as the researchers inserted the resulting hydrogenase into the capsid of another virus – bacteriophage P22. This was found to be 150 times more effective than if the hydrogenase were to remain in its E. coli capsid.
Douglas explained that what the team basically did was to take the virus’ capability to self-assemble myriad genetic building blocks, and then they incorporated a very sensitive and delicate enzyme that can incorporate protons and expel hydrogen gas.
A particle very similar to a virus was the result, a particle which basically acts in the same way as a very complex material which catalyzes hydrogen production.
By creating such a cheap and easily obtainable biofuel source – it can be obtained by simple fermentation at room temperature – the researchers finally completed a project that was thought to be a lost cause.
You see, researchers have been trying for a long time to do this exact thing, but the hydrogenase resulted from the E. coli bacteria was much too fragile and vulnerable to temperature and other outside factors.
Once the scientists inserted the hydrogenase enzyme into the bacteriophage P22 capsid, they made the biofuel suitable for large-scale production.
According to the lead researcher, nobody was able to create such an efficient biofuel resource before, and now they are able to mass produce it, offering a hugely helpful fuel alternative.
The scientists are now looking to start implementing the new biofuel into a solar-powered system, so that it can be used even more efficiently.
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