posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 04:42 PM
Researchers at Stanford have discovered a soil microorganism that produces hydrogen as a result of its own metabolic processes. The microorganisms
split water molecules to grow, as opposed to using sunlight. Researchers are now trying to reproduce a strain that can survive under "normal"
conditions in order to harvest the hydrogen as a renewable fuel source.
"Instead of using it (the energy from sunlight) to grow, it uses it to split water molecules," Plummer said.
Unfortunately, the microorganism in its natural state is anaerobic, which means it dies when exposed to large concentrations of oxygen.
To get around this problem, the researchers produce millions of the bugs and expose them to a low concentration of oxygen. They then take the ones
that survive and use them to parent a new generation of bugs.
The idea is to, over time, create a new race of bugs that can survive in a relatively normal environment. Entire generations of bugs can be produced
fairly rapidly, but wholesale changes in the genetic code do take time.
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I think this is great news and a positive step toward finding a cheaper, renewable fuel source. It's my understanding that hydrogen burns cleaner
and more efficient as well, making a hydrogen-powered car even more attractive. I hope this development continues to have success, as there are many
possibilities with this.
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