PerspectiveMicrobiology

An Enzymatic Route to H2 Storage

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Science  13 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6164, pp. 1329-1330
DOI: 10.1126/science.1247698

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Summary

Electricity is increasingly produced from renewable sources, but it remains difficult to store electric power at a large scale. Hydrogen is a strong candidate for energy storage, but there is still no safe, economically viable, and reasonably sized solution to store and transport it. The use of a liquid chemical hydrogen carrier with a high H2 content per unit of mass and a good safety profile may solve this problem (1). For example, hydrogen may be safely stored by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) to formic acid (2), a liquid with a much higher energy density than H2. Biological systems also use formate as a chemical equivalent of H2 (3, 4). On page 1382 of this issue, Schuchmann and Müller (5) report a single-enzyme system that efficiently hydrogenates CO2 without the need of cofactors.