Natural enzyme can produce clean energy from thin air

Looking forward: A recently discovered enzyme could pave the way for an entirely new type of clean energy source. Found in common bacteria, the compound can basically convert a small amount of gas into electrical energy. Now, we just need to understand how the enzyme is produced in large enough quantities.

A team of Australian researchers has studied the remarkable ability of a bacterium classified as Mycobacterium smegmatis to survive harsh environmental conditions. They eventually discovered that the main driver of the bacteria’s survival abilities was an enzyme they named Huc, which can essentially convert air into electrical energy.

Enzymes are proteins that act as biological catalysts by speeding up chemical reactions. We’ve known for some time that bacteria can use trace hydrogen in the air as an energy source in nutrient-poor environments, according to researchers. He saidwhich makes them grow and survive in harsh conditions such as Antarctic soils, volcanic craters, and even the depths of the oceans.

But until now, we didn’t know exactly how bacteria could convert hydrogen into life-sustaining energy. Led by Dr Rhys Grinter, the team of researchers from Monash University’s Biomedical Discovery Institute in Melbourne, Australia, was able to discover and study the chemical structure of Huc, the hydrogen-consuming enzyme that maintains the primitive metabolism of Mycobacterium smegmatis.

It turns out that Huc are “extremely efficient” catalysts that can convert hydrogen gas into electric current. The researchers explained that, unlike all other known chemical enzymes and catalysts, it consumes hydrogen below atmospheric levels – “less than 0.00005% of the air we breathe”.

Using several sophisticated analysis methods, the Australian team was able to reveal the Huc molecular diagram of hydrogen oxidation in the atmosphere. The researchers explored the atomic structure and electrical pathways, creating the most solved enzyme structure reported to date.

They also found that the purified Huc enzyme can be stored for long periods of time, as it has an “amazingly stable” chemical structure that can be frozen or even heated to 80 degrees Celsius. In either case, the enzyme retains its ability to generate energy from hydrogen molecules.

in their Stady, the researchers are clearly hinting at “atmospheric H2 oxidation” as a potential source of clean, environmentally sustainable energy. The team explained that Huc could act as a “natural battery” producing a continuous electric current from air or “added hydrogen”. Now they just need to understand how to increase enzyme production. It shouldn’t be a very complicated task, because bacteria like Mycobacterium subtilis are common and can be grown in large quantities.

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