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Newly Discovered Enzyme That Turns Air into Electricity, Providing a New Clean Source of Energy

Australian scientists have discovered an enzyme called Huc that turns hydrogen gas into an electrical current, allowing energy to be generated from the low amounts of hydrogen in the atmosphere. Led by Dr. Rhys Grinter, Ashleigh Kropp, and Professor Chris Greening from the Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Melbourne, the team extracted the enzyme from a bacterium called Mycobacterium smegmatis, revealing its molecular blueprint using advanced microscopy and electrochemistry. Huc is extraordinarily efficient, even consuming hydrogen below atmospheric levels, and is stable enough to be frozen or heated without losing its power to generate energy. The researchers believe this discovery could lead to the development of small air-powered devices as an alternative to solar-powered ones. Huc production needs to be scaled up, but bacteria that produce enzymes like Huc are common and can be grown in large quantities, meaning access to a sustainable source of the enzyme.

Photo Credit: Sergi Ferrete

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