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Blood Protein Used to Split Water

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-else-are-you-going-to-use-it-for dept.

Biotech 230

brian0918 writes "The Imperial College in London is reporting that genetically-engineered blood protein can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. The abstract can be viewed for free from the Journal of the American Chemical Society." From the article: "Scientists have combined two molecules that occur naturally in blood to engineer a molecular complex that uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This molecular complex can use energy from the sun to create hydrogen gas, providing an alternative to electrolysis, the method typically used to split water into its constituent parts. The breakthrough may pave the way for the development of novel ways of creating hydrogen gas for use as fuel in the future."

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Energy output = input? (4, Insightful)

Disoriented (202908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073268)


Now we just have to figure out if the amount of energy needed to synthesize the blood protein (say, X liters of hydrogen in a fuel cell) is less than
the energy of the hydrogen produced from this process... :)


--
Rare 680X0 and PowerPC posters! [ebay.com]

Re:Energy output = input? (2, Interesting)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073316)

Well, we're getting pretty good at genetically engineering simple organisms to produce things like this on their own.... (think BT corn).

We really don't want to do that. (0)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073780)

Imagine such an organism in the wild, breaking water down into its constituent elements.

Do you believe that such an organism, once engineered, could be kept forever contained? Life has a funny way of getting around such obstacles. GM corn is one thing - even GM bacilli to, say, biodegrade plastics. GM organisms which can break water down to hydrogen and oxygen? I think we (collectively) need to reevaluate the risk factors here; such an organism in the wild could very well turn our planet into a dustbowl in such a shockingly short time we wouldn't even have time to lynch the scientists who created it (think: hours - the mathematics of unchecked reproduction are truly alarming).

Re:We really don't want to do that. (5, Interesting)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073908)

Given that its from a living thing anyway, it seems like if breaking down hydrogen and oxygen in mass had any survival benefit, natural selection would have figured it out already.

Obviously, caution is always needed in genetic tinkering, but still....I think the knee jerk "OMG its going to zap all our oceans!" is unwarranted.

Re:We really don't want to do that. (4, Informative)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074096)

It has, it's called photosynthesis [wikipedia.org] . Granted, here you're not liberating free hydrogen. But to counter the GP argument of using up all water on earth... can you imagine how incredibly unstable the local environment would become for one of these organisms in the wild? They'd be very liable to kill themselves off either through pH changes or simply setting their environment on fire if they reproduced unchecked. That combined with the fact you could never split all the water on earth faster than it will recombine if sunlight is your only energy input.

Re:We really don't want to do that. (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074226)

one of these organisms in the wild?

What organisms?

Re:We really don't want to do that. (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074344)

Read my original comment on hypothetically genetically engineering organisms to produce the catalyst to do this and subsequent discussion. I might also suggest reading through the entire thread of a conversation vs. replying to the last comment. It tends to make more sense that way.

Re:We really don't want to do that. (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074442)

hypothetically genetically engineering organisms

But that's the point. Going wooly over a wild hypothesis is idiotic. (The molecule would "eat" it's own host up.)

I might also suggest reading through the entire thread of a conversation vs. replying to the last comment.

And yes, I did read the whole thread. Up to my comment, at least.

Re:We really don't want to do that. (2, Informative)

SquareOfS (578820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074170)

Umm . . . we already do this? Check it out [wikipedia.org] .

Net loss of 1 H2O molecule in the Krebs Cycle. And plenty of other places as well, I assume.

It's impossible, one presumes, for any standard cellular organism to destroy all water in its environment, because then no biochemical processes could occur and it would be dead.

I presume the way this works is that they isolate the protein, rather than adding the organism to the water. And proteins don't self-replicate.

Re:We really don't want to do that. (3, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074228)

I think we (collectively) need to reevaluate the risk factors here; such an organism in the wild could very well turn our planet into a dustbowl in such a shockingly short time we wouldn't even have time to lynch the scientists who created it (think: hours - the mathematics of unchecked reproduction are truly alarming).

Who said anything about reproduction, let alone unchecked reproduction? The article says it is a molecular complex, not a living organism capable of reproduction. I expect it is just an enzyme to catalyse the reaction, so I wouldn't worry about this any more than you would be inclined to worry about naturally occuring cellulase [wikipedia.org] suddenly going rampant and destroying all plant life on earth in a matter of hours. Generally being somewhat informed is a prerequisite critical analysis of risks and any ensuing scaremongering (okay, that's not true, i just think it should be a prerequisite!).

Re:We really don't want to do that. (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074386)

I brought up reproduction... i.e. the possibility of synthesizing this compound via a genetically engineered organism, hence the scaremongering response.

Re:We really don't want to do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074286)

The assumption, of course, being that breaking down water could be a selective advantage in the wild, compared to other bacteria.

"Boy Bubba, that sure is a neat thing yer doin' with yer cytosol!"

Re:Energy output = input? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073330)

Food! AMERICAN RUN ON THAT STUFF :p

Just pop a needle in your arm before starting your car and start making some bloodcells...

Re:Energy output = input? (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073524)

I'd be willing to bet that this compound can be used to break multiple water molecules, just like our hemoglobin can carry another oxygen molecule after it drops one off. The source of energy that allows continued hydrogen production is the sun.

In which case, the main question is the rate at which you can produce hydrogen. How much of the substance do you need, and how much solar energy, to produce how much hydrogen over what period of time? That is what will define whether or not this is a practical method of producing hydrogen. One obvious point of comparison would be an equal-sized photovoltaic solar cell and water electrolysis machine. If it doesn't do better than that, it's pretty worthless. On the other hand it might be a very efficient way to convert solar energy into hydrogen gas for fuel cells, which would be sweet.

Not to mention the other possibilities it opens up in biochemistry. These proteins are fascinating, as is the idea of swapping out the bound metal atom to get different effects.

Re:Energy output = input? (1)

Paperweight (865007) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073874)

The only point of comparison will be cost - not size or speed (directly).

Re:Energy output = input? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074236)

Efficiency (as in the size/speed/amount of solar energy) is as important as cost. If it is efficient enough to pay for its own cost before a solar cell would do the same, then it is a better choice.

Re:Energy output = input? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073720)

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

KFG

Re:Energy output = input? (2, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073840)

Actually they say it far surpasses the current method of separation and assuming this is a passive process (much like solar power), unless the production costs are over a million dollars for one unit, the time it would take to pay for itself is nominal.

Re:Energy output = input? (2, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074206)

Actually they say it far surpasses the current method of separation and assuming this is a passive process

They say nothing of the kind. Quote from the abstract, "The efficiency of the photoproduction of H2 was greater than that of the system using the well-known organic chromophore, tetrakis(1-methylpyridinium-4-yl)porphinatozinc(II ) (ZnTMPyP4+), under the same conditions."

Note the complete lack of superlatives.

Re:Energy output = input? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073942)

Too bad we won't need this now that Steorn is on the map... Steorn.com

Re:Energy output = input? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073956)

Now we just have to figure out if the amount of energy needed to synthesize the blood protein

How much energy is required for pig farm?

Genetically engineered pigs that is...

Re:Energy output = input? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074138)

Please move your signature to its proper place [slashdot.org] . I don't care to read your spam.

Re:Energy output = input? (3, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074774)

Though it doesn't specify, it's highly unlikely that albumin or porphyrin is used up in the reaction. Instead, it likely cleaves the water molecules (the substrate). Not quite physically tearing it apart, but that probably isn't an entirely inaccurate description either. Many proteins perform functions like this on other molecules. They'll attach to part of the substrate and remove, say an -OH hydroxyl group, or some other piece of the molecule. This is how liver enzymes breaks down certain drugs so that the byproducts (called metabolites) can be removed from the blood by the kidneys. As someone else mentioned catalase from yeast, it works in a similar way and removes an oxygen molecule off of hydrogen peroxide, leaving water and oxygen, but the catalase isn't "used up" in the process.

That said, proteins don't usually last forever and how long they last largely depends on how hostile their environment is, and what constitutes a hostile environment for a protein varies from protein to protein.

protestors... (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073312)

The Imperial College in London is reporting that genetically-engineered blood protein can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen.

I can hear it now... "No blood for oil! or hydrogen!"

Re:protestors... (0, Troll)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073366)

yeah, but on the funny side, this should fix any desalination plant issues they have in Iraq?

Re:protestors... (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073916)

Sure, but now they need water. ... are gypsy tears made of water?

How effecient is this? (1, Redundant)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073342)

I wonder how this compares to other methods such as solar power? Do you have to refuel this? How expensive is it to produce, install, and care for compared to solar panels. Makes me think of the book Distraction - maybe it'd be a good method for people that have time to care for it but not a lot of money?

Re:How effecient is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073400)

This method does save at least one energy conversion step over solar + electrolysis...

Re:How effecient is this? (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073404)

I'd say it'd be very efficient. All we need to do is keep the enzyme (assuming it is one) at a constant temp and pH.

Re:How effecient is this? (4, Interesting)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074008)

I'm reading over the actual article right now. It seems that process is quite efficient. In the conclusion of the paper they note:

Currently, rHSA(wt) is manufactured in an industrial scale, which allows us to use this zinc-protein photosensitizer in practical applications
Thus the raw materials are cheap enough that one could imagine scaling this up significantly. Moreover since its behavior is catalytic, the protein isn't used up, so you wouldn't need to replace it very often.

With regard to efficiency, in the Abstract they also point out that their system is more efficient than the previous standard in organic photo-synthesis:

The efficiency of the photoproduction of H2 was greater than that of the system using the well- known organic chromophore, tetrakis(1-methylpyridinium-4-yl)porphinatozinc(II ) (ZnTMPyP4+), under the same conditions.
Since the discovered system is a photosensitized catalyst, it effectively is a new kind of solar power. However it is one that directly generates H2 from incident light, without requiring one to harvest light energy as electricity, store it, and then use it to split water. So this discovery, coupled with cars/devices that run on H2 efficiently, seems like a viable idea. Of course we'll have to wait and see whether this really pans out, but from this paper it does indeed seem that this is a feasible way to harvest solar power (and store it as H2).

Re:How effecient is this? (2, Funny)

jalet (36114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074018)

> Do you have to refuel this?

Yes, but they are still wondering if it's better to refill this stuff with water, or with human bodies...

Re:How effecient is this? (2, Funny)

smackt4rd (950154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074858)

Just catch some small animals and stuff them in the gas-tank. :)

Very exciting! (2, Funny)

javelinco (652113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073344)

I eagerly await the return to the days of human/animal sacrifice. "It's for the good of the country! We need to have more SUVs on the road!" Bow down, I say!

Re:Very exciting! (4, Funny)

Skidge (316075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073482)

The Red Cross can just roll it into their blood drives: "Give a pint of blood and fill up your hydrogen tank!"

Re:Very exciting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073838)

Psh you think they're going to use human blood? This will end up being yet another way to exploit the animals of the world and use them as factories. Anti-animal-rights people start the flame wars...

Re:Very exciting! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074834)

Actually they probably could use blood from them. I seem to recall that blood doesn't keep very long and they have to throw a lot out. That waste might not be suitable for use in humans anymore but it should still be full of harvestable proteins.

Re:Very exciting! (1)

TimToady (52230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074232)

They've already got the sacrifice part covered:
"...In the presence of the colloidal PVA-Pt as a catalyst and triethanolamine (TEOA) as a sacrificial electron donor, the photosensitized reduction of water to H2 takes place."

Re:Very exciting! (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074404)

Await the return? Every war over oil (all current wars) is exactly that.

Re:Very exciting! (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074968)

"Diesel red! It's people!"

Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073368)


The breakthrough may pave the way for the development of novel ways of creating hydrogen gas for use as fuel in the future.


Screw that! It means we can breathe underwater! I'm off to try it now.

Re:Cool! (1)

mikeron (837641) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074888)

I don't know why parent has score 0. Breathing underwater is the first thing I thought of.

Cool! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073372)

Now I can pour on plain old cheap DiHydrogen Monoxide next time I cut myself!

No more having to buying that expensive Peroxide stuff. I'm saving up for something really important [slashdot.org] .

Desalinization (4, Interesting)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073402)

This would also make desalinization/decontamination pretty easy right?
Just seaparate the H from the O, capture the gases, recombine into clean water.

Re:Desalinization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073518)

Actually, I thought the abstract said that the compound used is oxidized, meaning that the oxygen is captured and only the hydrogen is released. If I read the abstract wrong, please correct me.

Re:Desalinization (2, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074618)

Actually, I thought the abstract said that the compound used is oxidized, meaning that the oxygen is captured and only the hydrogen is released. If I read the abstract wrong, please correct me.

My (admittedly layman's) understanding is thus: they have a molecule that sticks to oxygen. Put the molecule into water and it grabs the oxygen away from H2O, releasing H2. That by itself is not very impressive. Sodium does something similar. So here's the cool part, when exposed to sunlight, the molecule releases its oxygen - thus the process will go on so long as you have sunlight and water. This is only interesting because the molecule works like a catalyst.

IF it really works (I am cautiously optimistic) this could be the biggest discovery in the history of the world. It could mean that our civilization is no longer on the road to oblivion. It could mean no more energy wars (but don't worry, we'll still have to fight the United Atheist Alliance).

Re:Desalinization (2, Interesting)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073538)

If we're lucky, you'd not only get clean water, you'd get an abundance of (clean, perhaps?) energy that could be converted to electricity.

Re:Desalinization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074150)

As I understand it (haven't read the full article), the protein acts as a catalyst (enzyme would probably be a better term - same thing, but organic in origin). The thing about catalysts is, they work under fairly strict conditions. eg: there's a catalytic converter in modern car engines, to cut down the nitrous oxides car engines produce. Those don't work if lead is present - hence, unleaded fuels.

It's very likely that the presence of salt in salt water will break down the enzyme, or otherwise stop it from working ... so no, not an easy way to desalinate water. You'd have to desalinate water, then split that into hydrogen and oxygen, and burn the result to generate the electricity to desalinate the next lot - much less efficient.

Which is not to say that the process would not be viable - it may well be. Just that it would take a different form to what you're proposing.

Catalase (cool experiment) (4, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073408)

Blood also contains a protein called catalase. It makes the hydrogen peroxide that you put on a wounds bubble up with little oxygen bubbles. Yeast contains the same protein. Mix yeast and 3% peroxide solution and you get ------ oxygen and water. Stick a burning match in it and it burns with a bright white flame like a welding torch.

-b.

Re:Catalase (cool experiment) (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074280)

Not to sound like some sort of a bitch, but do you mean oxygen and hydrogen?

Re:Catalase (cool experiment) (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074392)

Not to sound like some sort of a bitch, but do you mean oxygen and hydrogen?

No, I mean:

2H2O2 --> O2 + 2H2O

(can't seem to get subscripts to work!)

-b.

efficiency (4, Informative)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073424)

The mention efficiency many times in the article, but do not mention the most important efficiency number - that is total energy in/out.

So, a quick calculation of efficiency:

FTA

Light in:
6 hours, 450 W light = 2.7 kWh

H energy out:
0.044 mL H ... at 4.7 MJ/L (Wikipedia) * 1/1000 (L/mL) * 1/3.6e6 (kWh/J) * 1e6 (J/MJ) =

= 5.7 e -5 kWh

Disclaimer:

This probably has an error, please help me correct it.

It has been a really long time since I did physics or dimensional analysis.

I could not find in the paper the pressure for the 0.044 ml of generated hydrogen, nor it's weight, so I made a gross assumption the energy density listed in Wikipedia (at 700 bar) was close enough.

Regardless, if you put in 2.7 units of energy and get out 0.000057 units... that seems really (s)low.

Re:efficiency (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073540)

Regardless, if you put in 2.7 units of energy and get out 0.000057 units... that seems really (s)low
Even if your math is off, it might not matter if the process can be scaled up, since solar power is cheap/free.

The important question is how cheaply can they synthesize the needed protein.

Re:efficiency (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073758)

Presumably this protein catalyst can be manufactured on a much larger scale than solar cells.

Solar energy is free (well. .. as "free" as the square-footage of land on which you situate your collectors) - but solar CELLS aren't free.

Re:efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074308)

Beaten by TubeSteak... tonight this AC wheeps.

Re:efficiency (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073556)

I'd think that the amount of sun in isn't really relevant to how useful this will be. It would be more interesting to know whether there's any maintenance associated with the protein... How long can the protein go on breaking down water/taking in sunlight before it needs to be replaced with more protein?

Re:efficiency (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074166)

could not find in the paper the pressure for the 0.044 ml of generated hydrogen, nor it's weight, so I made a gross assumption the energy density listed in Wikipedia (at 700 bar) was close enough.

1 bar is more likely, so the miniscule efficiency you've computed needs to be reduced by a further factor of 700.

Thanks for providing these numbers, which look quite sensible. I don't have access to the article, and neither the abstract nor the press release contain any information that would be useful in evaluating the practical status of this technique.

Re:efficiency (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074268)

This is exactly the point. It's nice that we can now use sunlight and a protein to split water and make hydrogen, but indeed, How efficient is the process? Screen printed poly-crystalline solar panels are about 12-15% efficient and produce around 120-150 W/m2... directly (=very convenient). Can this new method do any better? Let's hope so, because otherwise we might as well use solar panels to produce electricity to split water.

What does your car run on? (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073436)

What does your car run on?

Mine runs on blood, sweat and tears! =) /stupidity

Re:What does your car run on? (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074814)

Yeah, I had a car like that once.

Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073438)

If you inject the GM blood in a person, and they are cut, and the sun shines on the blood, will the person blow up?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073454)

Vampire cars!

Re:Are you thinking what I'm thinking? (1)

FusionDragon2099 (799857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074596)

Dracula is not on the bus, Dracula IS the bus!

Doomsday weapon? (2, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073460)

I wonder if you could bioengineer a plant that could survive in the ocean similar to seaweed, which would secrete this chemical. Eventually all the oceans would turn into Hydrogen and Oxygen... and LIFE WOULD BE DOOMED! Bwahahaha

Re:Doomsday weapon? (1)

idonthack (883680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074740)

Easy and fun solution:
Blow it up. Huge explosion, and you get your water back!

age old mistery finally solved ! (1)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073462)

So that's how Moses managed to cross the Red Sea ?!

Re:age old mistery finally solved ! (1)

Tandoori Haggis (662404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074780)

"So that's how Moses managed to cross the Red Sea ?!"

That's an interesting idea. But if the reaction was too fast and someone rubbed two sticks together, he could have gone in to orbit nearly 2000 years before Sputnik. (If the red sea was blood that is).

Maybe he ran a ferry service. Except on Sunday's of course.
And I used to think that the red stuff the hull was coated with was anti-fouling paint.

superhero (1)

alucinor (849600) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073584)

However, one of the scientists went too far, and replaced every iron atom at the center of his porphyrin molecules with zinc, transforming him into Hydro Man -- but only when he went out into the sunlight.

a little too Matrix-like for my peace of mind (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073604)

Don't anyone tell the Machines about this, otay?

So, all we gotta do is ship water up into orbit at $10,000 per pound and gain access to 24 hour light, then let the hydrogen ships drop back down where we can pick them up.

Or perhaps something more reasonable. If we do this, we can also probably eliminate salt mines with all the salt we'll be taking out of the water at the same time. Yay, no more salt mines!

Now all we need is some of those nifty carbon nanotube wall fuel tanks to store enough hydrogen to make a hydrogen-fueled passenger car a practically reality, and we're all set!

Oh yeah, and lots more highways; screw public transportation!

Guess someone should get on making hydrogen-powered buses and light rail for Seattle.

Wow movie becomes true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073620)

http://www.bloodcar.com/ [bloodcar.com] ;)

Thank you! (4, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073648)

I would like to praise the submitter for providing a link to a peer-reviewed article. Does not happen very often, worth mentioning.

Re:Thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074416)

I would like to praise the submitter for providing a link to a peer-reviewed article. Does not happen very often, worth mentioning.


I second this thanks and praise. Its nice to see some real science news that references a genuine scientific journal. More of this and less of the pseudo-scientific drivel from "Nu Scientist" (intentionally misspelled) please.

Re:Thank you! (1)

TwilightXaos (860408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074878)

Indeed. It is nice when people cite sources, and provide reliable information. I too wish to encorage this practice, not only on /. but everywhere else on the internet.

Dumb luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073660)

Wow the American car companies (the only ones dumb enough to be using hydrogen-gas for feul for green cars) just lucked out big time.

Next: (4, Insightful)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073672)

We'll need one of these that can split Oxygen and Carbon.

(ie - remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, and plant the Carbon somewhere safe - like maybe in empty petroleum resevoirs, where it came from).

Re:Next: (4, Funny)

Jherico (39763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074004)

You mean these [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Next: (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074118)

I wish I had mod points. Is there a "So painfully obvious it hurts" tag?

Re:Next: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074192)

hahaha. thank you.

Re:Next: (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074334)

These [wikipedia.org] are better than trees. You can't grow trees in the ocean -- at least not without some pretty impressive artificial islands.

Re:Next: (1)

ink (4325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074034)

Yeah, they're called plants [wikipedia.org] . They use this process known as photosynthesis [wikipedia.org] to do just that (where do you think most of the carbon came from in the oil that we're drilling up?). We need to stop making so much CO2.

They compare their efficiency to chlorophyll (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073708)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromophore [wikipedia.org]
"The efficiency of the photoproduction of H2 was greater than that of the system using the well-known organic chromophore, tetrakis(1-methylpyridinium-4-yl)porphinatozinc(II ) (ZnTMPyP4+), under the same conditions."

So, if we can get plants to produce this we can have hydrogen plants.

Um, Finland already runs on hydrogen fuel (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073736)

Finland made hydrogen fuel cells that they use for many things such as electricity when boating. They say it only takes 8 fuel cells to theoretically power a car, but the article I read was years old. I've been told Finland already has electric cars.

Heresay, I do say.

Old Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17073750)

Now not only the wheels of history are oiled with the blood of the workers, but the power system as well.

No need to breath anymore (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073756)

I look forward to not having to breath anymore. I could just stand out in the sun and drink some water. Is there a chance that I'd split all the water in my blood and dessicate like a raisin? Then there is the matter of all that leftover hydrogen. Would I burst like the Hindenburg? Oh the humanity!

breathing under water would be nice too (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073766)

A gill pack would be nice for walking around on the other 3/4 of the planet.

Though it's not the same, as I think fish get oxygen from dissolved free oxygen, not by splitting H20.

What to do with all this extra hydrogen?

Re:breathing under water would be nice too (1)

deevnil (966765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074414)

Maybe the hydrogen can keep us from getting the bends.

Why did the image... (1)

rtilghman (736281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073846)


of a small piece of Ice-Nice suddenly pop into my head. :)

rt

ice 9 ish (1)

jbaker8935 (1026036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073904)

... oh no, it's escaped and it's angry ... ... earth becomes water free ... ... ) ...

Blood Money? (1)

zerosix (962914) | more than 7 years ago | (#17073952)

Gives a whole new meaning to blood money...

Take Borat's advice (1)

DeepZenPill (585656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074046)

So if we just harvest the blood of every man, woman, and child in Iraq we could be free from our addiction to oil?

Biochemical isn't the only approach (3, Interesting)

quoll (3717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074050)

I'm pleased to see alternative technologies to split water using sunlight, but the idea is not new.

There is a group at UNSW [sialon.com.au] who have been working on ceramics which use sunlight to split water (via a process of electrolysis). It's still in research (mostly due to efficiency), but it's an interesting option if you're interested in this stuff.

Their website is pretty sparse, but there is a story on them here [abc.net.au] .

Serum shortage leads to high prices. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074130)

Winos drinking Dom instead of Polly Peach!

Splitting CO2 (1)

KidSock (150684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074152)

Can anyone specuate as to whether or not a similar technique could be used to split 2CO2 into 2CO+O2? That would be rather useful as well provided the CO could be fixed elsewhere.

Re:Splitting CO2 (2, Insightful)

noigmn (929935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074498)

Yeh was thinking the same. If we could break down carbon and sulphur compounds in the air, it would be a big step forward in fixing global warming. And also in atmospheric engineering, which we might need if we decide to create an atmosphere on Mars.

Imagine if photosynthesis could work with whatever compound we wanted. We could have it on space ships to break the CO2 breathed out back into O2 to rebreath also. Might also work for divers.

Tip of the Iceberg? (1)

GogglesPisano (199483) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074242)

I suspect that many of our most vexing engineering problems (efficient energy production and storage, advanced pattern recognition, to name just two) have already been solved at the molecular level by our cells. The answers to these problems are as close as our own DNA.

In college in the late 80s, I double-majored in Computer Science and Biology because I was convinced that the next huge advance in technology would be come from advances in genetic engineering. The Human Genome Project was an exciting first step in that direction, but major advances since then have been disappointingly slow in coming. (I've also been discouraged to see that in recent years, due in large part to resistance from religious fundamentalists in the US, most new developments in this field seem to be coming from Europe and Asia.)

I hope this is the first of many such breakthroughs - our genome is an untapped treasure trove.

Al is gonna be pissed (1)

walrus2517 (74306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074296)

So in a few years when Al Gore's predictions come through and the entire earth is covered in water we can just start converting it to hydrogen fuel for our boats? Maybe "Waterworld" would have been a bigger success is Costner had incorporated this idea...

Finally reading about... (2, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074330)

...something on the bleeding edge of technology here on /.

Ok, ok, OK. I promise not to post for the entire weekend, sigh.
Damn.

Problem with large scale use? (2, Insightful)

The Step Child (216708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074446)

From the abstract:
In the presence of the colloidal PVA-Pt as a catalyst and triethanolamine (TEOA) as a sacrificial electron donor, the photosensitized reduction of water to H2 takes place.
My chemistry knowledge isn't really up to the point where I can fully understand the whole abstract, but it sounds like we still need triethanolamine as a source of electrons in order to reduce water to H2. So the energy needed to produce more triethanolamine could put a big dent in the net energy gained from the H2 produced when we're talking about the practical large-scale usefulness of this. Maybe one day we could use another (renewable) electron donor like NADPH, so that we can couple it to another biochemical process like photosynthesis in order to renew our electron donors :)

Mad scientists were right! (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17074812)

They really do need the blood of virgins to power their infernal machines! And we just thought they were mad!

Blood in the water will separate it into hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17074868)

I for one welcome our new rocket-shark overlords.
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