A new technology developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology enables energy harvesting from photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria belong to a family of bacteria common to lakes, seas, and many other habitats. Throughout their evolution, the bacteria developed photosynthetic mechanisms that enable them to generate energy from sunlight. In addition, they generate energy in the dark, via respiratory mechanisms, which relies on sugar degradation. By harnessing both the processes of making energy during the day and at night to generate electricity, researchers produced hydrogen gas, currently considered the fuel of the future because it releases less pollutants into the atmosphere than other fuel. The study, published in Nature Communications, demonstrates a move in the direction of creating a source of clean, environment-friendly energy.
It was conducted by three Technion faculty members, Prof. Noam Adir from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, Prof. Gadi Schuster from the Faculty of Biology, and Prof. Avner Rothschild from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, in collaboration with the doctoral students and colleagues from Bochum, Germany and the Weizmann Institute of Science. The research was supported by various bodies, including the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP), the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI), the Technion Hydrogen Technologies Research Lab (HTRL), the Adelis Foundation, the Planning and Budgeting Committee’s I-CORE program, the Israel Science Foundation, the USA-Israel Binational Science Fund (BSF) and the German research fund (DFG-DIP).