Wednesday , January 27 2021

Researchers create life drops that produce hydrogen

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK and the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have built algae factories based on tiny droplets that produce hydrogen instead of oxygen when exposed to air during the day. An open ticket on their work is published Nature Communications.

Algal cells normally attach to carbon dioxide and produce oxygen through photosynthesis. The study used sugar droplets filled with living algal cells to produce hydrogen instead of oxygen by photosynthesis.

Together with Professor Stephen Mann and Dr. Mai Lee of the Bristol School of Chemistry and colleagues at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, tens of thousands or more of the algal cells in each droplet are trapped and then collided together by osmotic compression. By embedding cells in water droplets, the level of oxygen is transferred to a special enzyme called hydrogen gas, which hijacks the normal photosynthesis path of hydrogen production. In this way, microbial plants, which are only one-tenth of a millimeter in size, can process about one-fourth of a milliliter of water.

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Electron microscopy of packaged water droplets in hydrogen-producing algal cells. Scale bar, 10 micrometers. Credit: Professor Shin Huang, Harbin Institute of Technology

To increase the level of hydrogen evolution, the team coated live microbial reagents with a thin bacterial shell that was able to obtain oxygen, thereby increasing the number of algal cells that were prepared for hydrogen activation.

Although still in its infancy, photography under natural atmospheric conditions provides a step towards the development of biological green energy.

Overall, our methodology confirms a principle for the use of vectorly aqueous two-phase segregated droplets to control algae cell organization and photosynthesis in artificial microspheres. The mechanism of action is simple and algorithms can be used to alter cell activation toward hydrogen production without compromising the viability of living cells. Moreover, our methodology can be combined with more sulfur loss, genetically modified oxygen-tolerant more complex bioengineering approaches. [FeFe]-Hydrogen or cell surface changes.

Compared to systems that produce synthetic hydrogen, the limited ratios and yield of multicellular spheres remain challenging elements of future work. In this regard, chemical-based hydrogen-generating machinery or antennas may be promising strategies for incorporating reduced mutant algal cells into the sphere. In general, our approach enables us to alter the activity of other living cells; For example, droplet-based microbial systems can easily expand toward ethanol production by capturing large numbers of yeast cells in multicellular spheres.

– Coin And others.


  • Shu, Z, Wang, S., Shao, C. And others. (2020) “Production of photosynthetic hydrogen by microbial microenvironment based on water droplets under atmospheric conditions.” Nat Common 11, 5985. doi: 10.1038 / s41467-020-19823-5

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