Hydrogen from microbes

hydrogen can be produced by various microorganisms and can be a potential fuel resource. German scientists are using Thiorhodaceae , a strain of bacteria, to produce hydrogen in the Sahara. They are developing a heliomite, a cone shaped wooden construction with a transparent plastic pipe for the movement of Thiorhodaceae ( Hydrogen Today , Vol 7, No 1).

Results show that the rate of hydrogen production almost doubles when the reactor is irradiated from a side as Thiorhodaceae favours the long-wave light reflected by the Sahara sand. The scientists combined bacteria and plant photosynthesis to provide nutrients for the bacteria.

They have constructed two reaction chambers in which green algae and Thiorhodaceae are positioned adjacent to each other. The green algae reacts with the bacterial carbon dioxide and water to form oxygen and carbohydrates. The oxygen escapes and the carbohydrates feed the Thiorhodaceae solution. Then the bacteria produces carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

One photobioreactor unit can produce 285 litres of hydrogen per hour. The scientists plan to construct a photobioreactor at a landfill site or at a sewage plant.