Power from air
Synthetic Biology

Power from air?

I’ve written before about “food from air” which is the food extension of the “power-to-x” trend in renewable energy. But of course you need the power, so how about power from air using enzymes to create energy from atmospheric hydrogen! And it comes from some common bacterial species, meaning it could scale relatively easily.

They showed that an enzyme from the bacterium Mycobacterium smegmatis, called Huc, turns hydrogen gas into an electrical current. Dr. Grinter notes, “Huc is extraordinarily efficient. Unlike all other known enzymes and chemical catalysts, it even consumes hydrogen below atmospheric levels—as little as 0.00005% of the air we breathe.”

It’s also extremely stable surviving freezing and temperatures up to 80 degrees Celsius! This reflects where bacteria like this grow, from the Antarctic soils to volcanic craters and in the deep ocean. It’s stability means that it could be used to make small air-powered devices perhaps as alternatives to solar powered devices.

This amazing discovery “opens the way to create devices that literally make energy from thin air.” It proves again that we’re amateurs in the synthetic biology space, but then nature does have a 4 billion year head start!

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