Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory used a common protein to design a material that can make energy-storing hydrogen gas.
Hydrogen gas is used in energy storage devices such as fuel cells. When energy is needed a chemical reaction is triggered that releases electrons.
Electrons are responsible for the production of electricity. Electrons bind atoms together with chemical bonds to create a molecule. To store electrical energy a material chemically bonds a lot of electrons. When the energy is needed a chemical reaction triggered by a catalyst separates and frees these electrons which then create an electric current.
The synthetic nickel complex developed by P.N.N.L. creates hydrogen gas for energy storage at a rate that is 10 times faster than the original protein found in water-dwelling microbes used for hydrogen gas production. The new protein can make 100,000 molecules per second.