Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom have discovered that a certain bacteria called Nostoc releases hydrogen as part of its metabolic process. The Nostoc bacteria works by fixing nitrogen in an energy intensive process that is just beginning to be understood.
Using computer modeling, the researchers are able to identify the metabolic pathways used to fix nitrogen and produce hydrogen. Through the relatively new discipline of Synthetic Biology, which combines the talents of chemical engineers, computer scientists and biologists, the University of Sheffield was able to identify the Nostoc bacteria and its series of chemical reactions to produce hydrogen.
I’ve talked about the University of Sheffield in the past, and particularly their research into microbes producing hydrogen from sugar beets. I’ve also talked about other researchers using bacteria to produce hydrogen as well.
What is noteworthy about the Nostoc research is that the methods used can be employed by other researchers as well as in future commercial applications. There needs to be more than one way to solve the hydrogen production puzzle and the bacteria angle is sure to be one of the major future pieces.