Hydrogen from Algae?: Scientists Power H-Racer 2.0 with Aquatic Organism
Scientists have announced groundbreaking research where they were able to produce hydrogen from nothing but green algae and sunlight, using this hydrogen to power an H-Racer 2.0. Publishing the research in Nature, the researchers were able to penetrate the algae’s cells with carbon nanofibers, transforming the lifeform's cells into hydrogen generation devices. They then used this hydrogen to power an RC car made by Horizon Educational.
“The fact scientists were able to power our RC car with green algae has stunned everyone in our office,” said Kamil Jelinek, CEO of Horizon Educational. “Usually our products are used to introduce students to how hydrogen is produced, stored and used in a hands-on and interactive way. This new and exciting application has motivated us to create learning material that breaks down this ground-breaking research for our students.”
The cutting-edge study achieved hydrogen production by engineering the green algae species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, penetrating the algae’s cells and injecting them with carbon nanofibers. These carbon nanofibers (150 times smaller than a grain of sand) transformed the algae’s cells into power generation systems, capable of generating enough hydrogen to run the fuel cell electric car.
Current ways of generating fuel from solar power rely on expensive semiconductors, making the systems too expensive to be used at scale. The research team, led by Professor Hyo Jin Gwon, was able to demonstrate that the green algae could generate hydrogen on its own for over 50 days, and the production system had very low costs being scalable and efficient in terms of space.
This method of producing hydrogen fuel is not only “green”, generating no CO2 emissions, but it can grow in capacity at a steady rate when the number of algae is increased. This means that while the system used by the scientists could power the H-Racer 2.0, on a larger scale it has the potential to power industrial-scale solar to hydrogen generation systems, transforming how the global supply of hydrogen is produced.
The H-Racer 2.0 is currently available by visiting the Horizon Educational store.