Hydrogen makers | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Hydrogen makers

11:16am, November 26, 2007

By putting bacteria to work, a new bioreactor produces hydrogen hundreds of times as fast as previous prototypes.

In a microbial fuel cell, bacteria break down organic matter, releasing electrons and protons into a solution. The protons migrate through a membrane, while the electrons enter a cathode and pass through a circuit that delivers them to the protons on the other side. There, protons—ionized hydrogen—and electrons react with oxygen to produce water, at the same time generating a voltage that keeps the electrons flowing, so the device produces a small amount of electric power (SN: 2/4/06, p. 72).

In the absence of oxygen, and with the help of a metal catalyst, the protons and electrons will instead combine into hydrogen gas. However, such hydrogen-producing bioreactors require an external voltage to pull the electrons from one side to the other, and so far have been very

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content