Hydrogen can in the future serve as an advantageous carrier of renewable energy if its production via water electrolysis and utilization in fuel cells are realized with high energy efficiency and non-precious electrocatalysts. In an unprecedented novel combination of structured electrodes with hydrogen converting enzymes from the uncultured and thus largely inaccessible microbial majority (>99%) we address this challenge. The geometrically defined electrodes with large specific surface area allow for low overpotentials and high energy efficiencies to be achieved. Enzymatic hydrogen evolution electrocatalysts are used as alternatives to noble metals. The enzymes are harnessed from the environmental microbial DNA (metagenomes) of hydrothermal vents exhibiting dynamic hydrogen and oxygen concentrations and are recovered via a recently developed novel activity-based screening tool. The screen enables us to target currently unrecognized hydrogenase enzymes from metagenomes via direct expression in a surrogate host microorganism. This circumvents the need for cultivation of the source organisms, the primary bottleneck when harnessing enzymes from microbes. One hydrogen converting metagenome-derived enzyme exhibited high activity and unusually high stability when dispersed on a TiO2-coated polyacrylonitrile fiber electrode. Our results highlight the tremendous potential of enzymes derived from uncultured microorganisms for applications in energy conversion and storage technologies.
Предметные области Scopus
- Биомедицинская техника