Method for the Synthesis of Hydrogen Using a Photobiofuel Cell

Ana Moore (Inventor), Thomas Moore (Inventor)

Research output: Patent


During photosynthesis, plants convert light energy into electrochemical energy, and eventually into chemical potential energy stored as carbohydrates and other complex compounds. Many means to extract the stored energy in these chemical compounds have been devised. Some, such as burning, are very inefficient and produce undesirable byproducts. Others, such as fuel cells, offer higher efficiencies but are prohibitively costly. The conversion of biological matter into electrical energy or into higher-value compounds remains a challenge. Researchers at Arizona State University have developed an effective means for the production of hydrogen and other high value / high energy compounds from low-energy organic material. By coupling the photosynthetic process with an enzyme-catalyzed biofuel cell, high-value compounds such as hydrogen can be easily produced. The energy for the production process comes from both light absorbed by the photoanode and from chemical energy inherent in the input fuel. The system allows waste organics to be recycled into more efficient fuels such as pure elemental hydrogen. An efficient, low cost, endlessly renewable fuel source is now available. Potential Applications Hydrogen Production High-Energy Organic Material ProductionBenefits and Advantages Low-Cost Hydrogen Synthesis The process requires less energy and is superior to the common water electrolysis technique for hydrogen production. Accepts Wide Range of Fuels Fats, hydrocarbons, carbohydrates, proteins, and all other materials that can be either directly or indirectly oxidized by the photoanode are suitable fuels for this cell. High-Efficiency The system captures a higher portion of the energy in sunlight than conventional solar cells. Converts Input Wastes to Valuable Fuel Output Low-value, discarded organic materials are converted in to higher-value compounds.Download original PDF
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - May 29 2003


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