In the past, I’ve talked about Energy Quest in Henderson, Nevada developing a Pyrolysis Steam Reforming process for creating high purity hydrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrogen from algae.
One of the typical problems occur when trying to produce hydrogen from algae is that oxygen tends to “poison” the process and slow down the green algae’s production. Researchers at Oxford University and those in Germany have made this discovery while working towards the idea of production scale solar H2 farms.
The hydrogen producing enzyme in green algae called iron-iron hydrogenase is particularly susceptible to be tainted with oxygen molecules. But other strains of microorganism show more tolerance to oxygen than does the green algae studied.
According to Professor Armstrong, “It shows that whilst we may have found a major obstacle along one route to the biological production of hydrogen, this knowledge could help us to identify new routes where nature could suggest an answer to the problem of oxygen’s destructive effect on hydrogen-producing enzymes.”
Identifying the problem openly within the scientific community is half the battle. Now, scientists and researchers can work on this problem and come up with solutions to help make sure that oxygen does not taint the growth of the hydrogen producing enzyme and that solar H2 farms can indeed become a reality in the short term.