Oxford University scientists have presented a concept for a biofuel cell at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Fraser Armstrong described a new type of fuel cell that comprises enzymes called hydrogenases that can oxidize hydrogen through metabolism. Electrodes coated with the enzymes produce electricity from ordinary air that is blended with three percent hydrogen. That concentration is low enough to prevent the mixture from being an explosive hazard.
Corn ethanol is largely a boondoggle for large agri-businesses like Archer-Daniels Midland, and aside from the fact that it is domestically produced, the environmental benefits are debatable at best. The question of food or fuel is a whole other question. Ethanol produced from cellulose has the potential produce far greater yields, and can use non-food biomass as feed-stocks. The key to breaking down the cellulose into individual sugar molecules seems to be enzymes.
This is not about poisoning the human population before we irretrievably damage the atmosphere. One of the holy grails right now in developing renewable fuels is enzymes, because they can be used to help process materials from one form into another. Enzymes are being used to break down cellulose into individual sugar molecules that can then be easily fermented in to ethanol. Another potential application of enzymes is in carbon sequestration. The idea of grabbing carbon dioxide from an exhaust s
One of the issues with biofuel production is that the amount of energy required to produce the fuel often exceeds the amount of energy available from the fuel itself. There are also issues with trying to produce biofuels from other cellulosic sources like grasses and lumber. One of the potential solutions to increasing the efficiency of the biofuel production process is enzymes. Diversa, a manufacturer of synthetic enzymes, has announced that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved thei