Bio-Hydrogen  

Posted by Big Gav

This article discusses generating hydrogen using bacterial processes. Maybe there could be a renewable basis for a hydrogen economy after all.

Whether or not it would be as efficient as, say, biodiesel made from algae for example, is another matter of course.

We've talked before about baby steps toward a hydrogen economy. Those are important to keep in mind, but if we are ever going to completely transition, we need to solve the problem of massive amounts of cheap hydrogen made from renewable sources. Reforming oil or natural gas is fine for the short term, while you figure out the long term, but you still end up with the same carbon emissions as you had before, and the atmosphere heats up just as fast.

Proposals for creating hydrogen from solar electricity, geothermal sources, and wind power are all enticing, and will definitely be a part of the process. But we wonder how these methods can expand to fill the 68% of energy usage gap left by oil and coal in the US (and probably only slightly lower in other countries); why aren't we already completely replacing our coal power plants with solar or wind?

If the answer is cost, and it very well may be, there is a huge opportunity under development by biologists around the world. With the adoption of a biotic system for producing hydrogen, you would loose the costs of upkeep and heavy price of expanding the system; Bacteria and algae take care of their own upkeep, and if you want more of them, the reproduce automatically!

Recently, there has been considerable press about "newly discovered" hydrogen producing bacteria in hotsprings and thermal vents. While new species are being found all the time, the genera has been researched for at least 15 years and has considerable success under its belt.

To generate biotic hydrogen, there are two main methods. Both involve collecting energy from the sun in plants, and then converting that stored plant energy into hydrogen with a bacteria.

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