Washington: Hydrogen has unparalleled potential as a low cost eco-friendly fuel, but it is expensive to produce.
Now, researchers from Princeton and Rutgers Universities have edged a step closer to harnessing nature to produce hydrogen for us.
The team, led by Annabella Selloni, a Princeton chemistry professor, takes inspiration from bugs that make hydrogen from water using enzymes called di-iron hydrogenases, according to a Princeton statement.
Selloni`s team uses computer models to figure out how to incorporate the magic of these enzymes into the design of practical synthetic catalysts that humans can use to produce hydrogen from water cheaply.
The catalysts designed so far are susceptible to poisoning by the oxygen present during the reaction. By making changes to the catalyst to improve the stability of the structure in water, the researchers found that they had also created a catalyst that is tolerant to oxygen without sacrificing efficiency.
What is more, their artificial catalyst could be made from abundant and cheap components, such as iron, indicating that the catalyst could be a cost-effective way of producing hydrogen.