Energy From Hydrogen-Producing Bacteria
Today we all are feeling the need of growing green. We have already put the various resources of planet earth on risk and some of the resources will not last for our great-great grandchildren for future use. So it’s better that we start mending our ways. Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and North Carolina State University (NC State) are in the process of developing new green technology that could lead to production of hydrogen from nitrogen-fixing bacteria. ARS inventors Paul Bishop and Telisa Loveless and NC State inventors Jonathan Olson and José Bruno-Bárcena developed the patent-pending technology. Bishop first demonstrated novel aspects of bacterial nitrogen-fixing more than two decades ago.
Hydrogen is a source of energy that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases as a side effect and can be used to solve global energy shortages. The innovation promises a source of hydrogen for use in fuel cell technology. We all know that fuel cell devices join hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity and water, and are considered safe, proficient, silent and pollution-free. Fuel cells are now being tested in a range of products, including automobiles that release no emissions other than water vapor.
If we talk of agriculture, every farmer worth his/her salt knows the importance of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and the key role it plays in agriculture. These bacteria live in soil and on certain plant roots, and are responsible for converting nitrogen from the air into a chemical form that plants can use to grow. The researchers developed a way to identify strains of these bacteria that produce hydrogen gas.
The team is developing a method that uses a selecting agent to identify these special hydrogen-producing strains. Researchers can identify these bacteria without changing their genetic sequencing or genetic modification. In the next step the scientists pick out a gene that inactivates the bacteria’s hydrogen uptake system. This leads to the release of all the hydrogen produced previously. The bacteria can’t recycle these hydrogen. So the hydrogen they produce can be captured and used as a fuel whose byproduct is water and heat.