Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Solar Energy News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SOLAR DAILY
Microbes map path toward renewable energy future
by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX) Nov 18, 2015


This is Cyanothece 51142 -- a workhorse for natural hydrogen production -- in a bioreactor. Image courtesy of PNNL. For a larger version of this image please go here.

In the quest for renewable fuels, scientists are taking lessons from a humble bacterium that fills our oceans and covers moist surfaces the world over. While the organism captures light to make food in a process called photosynthesis, scientists have found that it simultaneously uses the energy from that captured light to produce hydrogen.

While the nuances of how microbes draw upon sunlight, water, and elements like carbon and nitrogen to survive may seem detached and remote from modern life, such knowledge is central to our ability to meet the energy needs of our planet's growing population.

"The ultimate goal here is to take energy from the sun, and water, and produce useable energy," said microbiologist Alex Beliaev, one of two scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory who led the research.

"The more we know about the pathways involved in this process, the more likely we will be able to find a facile and economic way to produce renewable energy. The organisms that produce clean energy naturally provide a blueprint of sorts for how we might do this."

The latest finding, published in Scientific Reports, concerns a cyanobacterium known as Cyanothece 51142, a type of bacteria also called blue-green algae that produces hydrogen - a resource that is one focus of the worldwide push toward renewable energy.

PNNL scientists found that the organism taps into an unexpected source of energy to create hydrogen. Researchers have known that 51142 makes hydrogen by drawing upon sugars that it has stored during growth. In this study, PNNL researchers found that the organism also draws on a second source of energy, using sunlight and water directly to make hydrogen.

Cyanobacteria: Central to life and energy production
Organisms like cyanobacteria made life on the planet possible by producing the oxygen for our atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago. They also convert the abundant nitrogen in our atmosphere to a form that is essential for all plant life on the planet.

"If we want to understand life on Earth, and how to improve it, this is a great place to start," said first author Hans Bernstein, a Linus Pauling distinguished postdoctoral fellow at PNNL. Bernstein and Beliaev are co-authors on the paper.

Many of these organisms are equipped with an enzyme called nitrogenase to convert inert atmospheric nitrogen to more usable forms for plants and other organisms. For a long time, scientists have known that nitrogenase produces small quantities of molecular hydrogen as a byproduct. When nitrogen is not available, the organism produces hydrogen. It's this attribute of the enzyme that scientists like Bernstein and Beliaev focus on.

The team set up Cyanothece 51142 in a bioreactor, limited the supply of nitrogen, and kept the lights on 24 hours a day for several weeks. The team used an array of high-tech equipment to yield sophisticated minute-by-minute profiles of the organism as it converted light energy to hydrogen.

Scientists conducted many of their analyses using capabilities at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE user facility at PNNL, to "interrogate" the genes and proteins of the organism as they changed while the reactions occurred.

In scientific parlance, the team conducted a "multi-omics experiment," studying the genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics of the organism's activity, as well as its reaction kinetics.

The scientists scrutinized 5,303 genes and 1,360 proteins at eight separate times over the course of 48 hours as the bacteria, with limited nitrogen supply, switched on the activity of the nitrogenase protein.

Scientists found that in addition to drawing upon its previously stored energy, the organism captures light and uses that energy to split water to create hydrogen in real time. As one component of the organism is creating energy by collecting light energy, another part is using that energy simultaneously to create hydrogen.

Robust hydrogen production
Scientists know that the organism is a robust producer of hydrogen, creating the resource at a rate higher than other known natural systems.

"This organism can make lots of hydrogen, very fast; it's a viable catalyst for hydrogen production," said Bernstein. "The enzyme that makes the hydrogen needs a huge amount of energy. The real question is, what funds the energy budget for this important enzyme and then, how can we design and control it to create renewable fuels and to advance biotechnology?"

In a paper published in 2012 in mBio, Beliaev and colleagues raised questions about how the microbe drew upon the energy required to produce hydrogen. In the new paper, the molecular signals the team studied show that photosynthesis and the hydrogen production by nitrogenase happen hand in hand in a coordinated manner.

The team includes 11 researchers from PNNL. Beliaev began the project seven years ago as part of hydrogen production research related to biofuels, and Bernstein picked it up when he joined PNNL two years ago.

"Our primary goal is to understand the fundamental processes that occur in nature, so that we can learn to design and control complex biological systems to sustain healthy people on a healthy planet," added Bernstein.

Reference: Hans C. Bernstein, Moiz A. Charania, Ryan S. McClure, Natalie C. Sadler, Matthew R. Melnicki, Eric A. Hill, Lye Meng Markillie, Carrie D. Nicora, Aaron T. Wright, Margaret F. Romine and Alexander S. Beliaev, Multi-omic dynamics associate oxygenic photosynthesis with nitrogenase-mediated H2 production in Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142, Scientific Reports, Nov. 3, 2015.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
SOLAR DAILY
Owens Corning and Constellation Celebrate Completion of 2.4-MW Solar Project
Toledo OH (SPX) Nov 12, 2015
Owens Corning and Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, have celebrated the completion of a 2.4-megawatt (DC) solar generation project at Owens Corning's headquarters in Toledo. Located above 935 parking canopy spaces, the solar installation is currently one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest and supports Owens Corning's newly expanded goals aimed at reducing its environmenta ... read more


SOLAR DAILY
Increasing production of seed oils

Energy-efficient reaction drives ORNL biofuel conversion technology

Vast energy value in human waste

Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund invests $150,000 in Manta Biofuel

SOLAR DAILY
Humans can empathize with robots

How sensorimotor intelligence may develop

Robot's influent speaking just to get attention from you

'Spring-mass' technology heralds the future of walking robots

SOLAR DAILY
Prysmian Supplies Cables For The Niagara Wind Farm Project

New Jersey is next for offshore wind energy

Scotland hosting new type of offshore wind program

E.ON finishes German wind farm

SOLAR DAILY
Human roadblock for Japanese firms developing autonomous cars

Madrid sets speed, parking restrictions to fight pollution

GM to sell Chinese-made cars in the US: report

BMW buys Chinese firm to drive car leasing business

SOLAR DAILY
New Super H-mode regime could greatly increase fusion power

Daring move for first US-China fusion team

Using hydrogen to enhance lithium ion batteries

Mixing an icy cocktail to safely cool hot plasma

SOLAR DAILY
Russia's New Nuclear Control System Reduces Radiation Risks

Russia Hopes to Increase Nuclear Energy Projects in Indonesia

CGN wins $7.7 bln Romanian nuclear deal

Australia reveals shortlist for first nuclear waste dump

SOLAR DAILY
Climate change adaptation in high income countries

EPA boss insists climate reforms will outlast Obama

Africa needs energy for growth, leaders say ahead of climate talks

World in 'uncharted territory' as planet warms 1C, CO2 at new high

SOLAR DAILY
Scientists date the origin of the cacao tree to 10 million years ago

Increased deforestation could substantially reduce Amazon basin rainfall

Large landowners key to slowing deforestation in Brazil

10 Cambodians arrested over illegal logging patrol murders




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement