Thursday, November 15, 2007
Hyrogen break through
Hydrogen brewing gets an electrical boost
* 22:00 12 November 2007
* NewScientist.com news service
* Mason Inman
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A new microbe-powered device can extract up to 99% of the available hydrogen from biological compounds that have stumped previous attempts to ferment fuel from plant waste. The secret is to give the bugs a helping hand with a kick of electric charge.
Hydrogen is an attractive environmentally friendly fuel because burning it creates only water as a waste product. But finding an efficient, clean way to produce hydrogen in the first place is difficult.
Fermenting organic material using microbes is one possibility, but generally produces poor yields. Microbes reach a chemical dead end once sugar from material has been broken down into acetic acid, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. That releases at best only a third of the hydrogen in a molecule of the sugar glucose, for example.
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