Crop Biotech Update

Hydrogen from In Vitro Synthetic Biology For “Sugar-Powered Cars”

April 25, 2008

Hydrogen is the “clean fuel” used in hybrid cars, in specially designed batteries (called “fuel cells”) to generate electrical energy to drive the car’s engine. Hybrid cars have an electrical power source, as well as a regular fossil-fuel-powered source which can be operated for optimum energy consumption. Although hydrogen is considered “clean energy”, its production is still “expensive and inefficient” . Recently, scientists from  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the United States have developed a process for converting plant sugars into hydrogen, “which could be used to cheaply and efficiently power vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells without producing any pollutants”. Methods of “in vitro synthetic biology” have been reportedly used to develop the process. Dr. Percival Zhang, the lead researcher, says that the process is “revolutionary”, and it “has opened up a whole new direction in hydrogen research. With technology improvement, sugar-powered vehicles could come true eventually”.

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