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DOE Awards $1.6M for Investigation of Hydrogen Production by Thermotoga Bacteria

Thermotoga
Thermotoga maritima (green/yellow rods) growing in co-culture with Methanococcus jannaschii (red spheres). T. maritima ferments sugars to hydrogen and M. jannaschii converts hydrogen to methane.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $1.6 million to a team led by North Carolina State University to learn more about the microbiology, genetics and genomics of thermotogales—extremophile bacteria that produce large amounts of hydrogen with unusually high efficiencies. (Earlier post.)

An earlier project funded by the DOE found that one representative of this order, Thermotoga neapolitana, consistently obtained accumulations of 25-30% hydrogen. Thermotogales are found in areas which are naturally hot—including volcanic sediments, hot springs and brines from deep oil wells.

Dr. Robert Kelly, Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State and the principal investigator for the grant, will work with colleagues from the University of Connecticut and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to learn more about how thermotogales consume sugars and produce hydrogen in such efficient ways.

These organisms produce copious amounts of hydrogen as a waste product of their metabolism, even though hydrogen ultimately inhibits their growth. We’d like to learn more about the connection between sugar consumption and hydrogen yields and how to take advantage of their unique bioenergetics at high temperatures.

—Robert Kelly

Although virtually all members of the Thermotoga order had earlier been reported to be anaerobes, more recent work suggests that most of them can tolerate low levels of oxygen (microaerobes).

A number of recent large-scale genomics and structural genomics projects, as well as individual research groups, have studied Thermotoga maritima. In July 2007, the Joint Center for Structural Genomics (JCSG)—which brings together researchers from The Scripps Research Institute, Genomic Research Foundation, Stanford University, Burnham Institute for Medical Research and UC San Diego—hosted a two-day interdisciplinary workshop on thermotoga (Thermotoga 2007). At that event, Kelly presented on functional genomics studies of carbohydrate utilization and production in Thermotoga maritima.

Kelly, who has worked with a number of different thermophile organisms over the past 25 years, is also interested in organisms that efficiently break down cellulose to produce sugars that can be fermented into ethanol. One of the current areas of interest is how different microorganisms from high temperature environments coexist and at the same time produce enzymes or byproducts, such as hydrogen, for biofuels applications.

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AutoCar-Live

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Henry Gibson

Hydrogen cannot be generated, transported or used for the major fuel of transportation. But it could be used with CO2, extracted from the air or other sources to make liquid fuels. The use of ammonia as a fuel is possible, but it would be cheaper to develop exhaust systems that eliminate all chemical releases other than water and CO2. People and most other organisms release CO2. An Ox (if one could be found) on a treadmill might be the most efficient way of converting biomass to transportation. ..HG..

Wetdog

------" People and most other organisms release CO2. An Ox (if one could be found) on a treadmill might be the most efficient way of converting biomass to transportation. ..HG.."------------


A heck of a lot of people went from Missouri to California and Oregon using oxen.

Wetdog

----"Hydrogen cannot be generated, transported or used for the major fuel of transportation."-------

Why not? Just collect it, compress it and put it in cylinders. Nothing hard about that, we do it all the time.

Wetdog

-------" The use of ammonia as a fuel is possible, but it would be cheaper to develop exhaust systems that eliminate all chemical releases other than water and CO2."--------

If you use ammonia in a Sterling Cycle engine, you have no exhuast at all.

sandy zhou

2nd World Congress Of Industrial Biotechnology-2009
Start Date: 05-Apr-2009
From Date: 07-Apr-2009
Time From: 9am
Time To: 5pm
Hosted By:Dalian BIT Lifesciences, Inc
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