Via inhabitat.com, 15/08/2011
According to scientists, there are mussels at the bottom of the ocean that are efficiently converting hydrogen into energy in their very own, nature-made hydrogen fuel cells. The mussels, discovered by the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology and the Cluster of Excellence (MARUM), were found near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor and have onboard symbiotic bacteria that convert hydrogen into energy. With this discovery, researchers might be able to clone the hydrogen eating bacteria to create all-natural hydrogen fuel cells to power things other than sea life.
When hydrothermal vents were discovered they were widely researched and found to provide two sources of energy to sea life — hydrogen sulfide and methane. Now, the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology has discovered a third source of energy. The discovery was made in a mountain range deep below the surface of the Atlantic ocean at the Logatchev hydrothermal vent field which is 3000 meters below sea level. When researchers brought the mussels back to their laboratory they found they were using a new form of energy than what they had previously discovered in deep ocean vents.
“Our calculations show that at this hydrothermal vent, hydrogen oxidation could deliver seven times more energy than methane oxidation, and up to 18 times more energy than sulfide oxidation,” said Jillian Petersen, a researcher on the discovery team. The mussel in question, Bathymodiolus puteoserpentis, is the most abundant at the Logatchev vent and that population was found to consume up to 5000 liters of hydrogen per hour. “The hydrothermal vents along the mid-ocean ridges that emit large amounts of hydrogen can therefore be likened to a hydrogen highway with fueling stations for symbiotic primary production,” said Petersen. Perhaps this “hydrogen highway” could lead to a network of less watery bacterial hydrogen fuel cells for human energy consumption.
Via Science Daily