In the field of renewable energy, new developments and technologies are important in the task of resolving our dependence on fossil fuels. No matter how out there some of the new ideas may seem, if the material results lay bare the usefulness of the tech, we should always seriously consider them. This is especially true for Monash University researchers in Australia, who have discovered a bacterial enzyme that can produce electricity.
This enzyme, called Huc, is part of the field of hydrogen renewable energy. It generates energy by “eating” or using hydrogen in the air. This causes the enzyme to produce electricity and scaled large enough it could be used for smartphones, watches, and even cars. As detailed in a new study published this week in the journal Nature, “Huc is extraordinarily efficient,” said Rhys Grinter, study lead and research fellow at Monash University, in the statement. “Unlike all known enzymes and chemical catalysts, it even consumes hydrogen below atmospheric levels — as little as 0.00005 percent of the air we breathe.”
Despite the exciting prospect that we could one day create energy out of thin air, literally, the research is still at the beginning of its life. Currently, there are no practical applications for such a groundbreaking scientific discovery. However, this is not to say that we shouldn’t be hopeful that an industrial-scale application of enzyme energy production could be possible.
As we move forward in how we conduct ourselves in our world, many things will change. Many technological advances that in decades prior would’ve seemed like science fiction are and have already come to life. It’s impossible to rule out definitively what can or cannot be part of the conversation regarding renewable energy. With time, perhaps enzyme electricity production can be as ubiquitous as solar panels.
For now, though, we must use what is available. So maintaining support and funding for solar, wind, and hydroelectric power is key to addressing our climate crisis. But if Monash University researchers can create energy from something so small, perhaps they can have a much larger impact than initially understood or anticipated.