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Oxford Sparks Big Questions

May 24, 2016

How can Chemistry take inspiration from nature to create cleaner and more efficient ways of producing and using Hydrogen as a source of clean energy? Professor Kylie Vincent explains how bacteria may hold the key to harnessing Hydrogen as a clean energy source: Chemists are looking to understand how bacteria make use of Hydrogen as efficiently as they do using common metals. The hope is that we may be able to learn from them to inspire our own fuel cells. Currently, we have to use really expensive metals, like Platinum: something you might rather use to create jewellery, rather than the innards of a car. And what we can learn from nature doesn't just stop there. Bacteria are also very good at making specific molecules, e.g., those that might be of interest as drugs. And they do it better than we can! Kylie also describes work in this area to make use of bacterial cell 'machinery' to carry out specific chemical reactions.