TEMPE, Ariz. -- If we wanted to create the ideal environmentally friendly energy source, it would be a fuel that is easy and economical to produce, and one that does not pollute our air when burned. That is exactly what researchers at Arizona State University intend to develop in a new program that uses bacteria and sunlight to generate hydrogen, a clean fuel that produces no greenhouse gases.
The project is one of the first to be funded by the ASU Presidents Intellectual Fusion fund. This endowed fund is supported by two recent gifts totaling $22 million, and is used to make seed investments in research areas that push the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.
Funding for the biohydrogen project ($2.5 million over five years) is being administered through the Global Institute of Sustainability, which, with ASUs School of Sustainability has the goals of researching new, environmentally friendly technologies and educating students on sustainability.
ASUs biohydrogen project aims to harness the energy in sunlight using microbial photosynthesis to produce hydrogen. A second part of this project is to convert waste materials from the initial process to produce even more hydrogen.
Hydrogen is the purest fuel you can think of, said microbiologist Willem Wim Vermaas, a professor in ASUs School of Life Sciences and the lead investigator on the project. It generates energy without releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. It is the ultimate clean energy technology because you are splitting water to make the hydrogen. If you burn the hydrogen, you get water back. In essence, with our process you are converting solar energy into a clean fuel.
Of course, he adds, there are many challenges to making this process work efficiently.
Splitting water into its chemical constituents of hydrogen and oxygen can be done through other methods, like electrolysis. ASUs process is more elegant and does not require any energy ot
|Contact: Skip Derra|
Arizona State University