Cheap energy and genetic engineering

Thomas Lifson
The holy grail of energy independence resides in breaking the bond tying hydrogen atoms to two oxygen atoms in the water molecule. If a way can be found to break that bond cheaply and liberate the hydrogen atoms, the world would have a source of limitless energy, and the stranglehold of the Islamic petro powers could be broken.

Very encouraging news comes from Scientific American:

Scientific American's 2006 researcher of the year, MIT's Angela Belcher, has engineered a virus so that it captures light energy and uses it to catalyze the splitting of water, a first step in a possible new way to generate hydrogen for fuel cell. [...]

Belcher and her team took a harmless virus called M13. They engineered it so that one end carries a catalyst-iridium oxide. Bound at the other end are light-sensitive pigments, zinc porphyrins. The porphyrins capture light energy, and transmit it along the virus, acting as a wire, to the other end, activating the catalyst. Which splits water into oxygen and the constituents of hydrogen, a proton and electron. The work appears in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. [See http://bit.ly/aP4HCN]

The scientists are working on ways to recombine the protons and electrons back into hydrogen atoms and then molecules of H2. They're also seeking a cheaper catalyst than iridium.

Obviously, there is much more work, and many obstacles to overcome before cheap energy from water can be realistically in prospect. But the power of human imagination coupled to science cannot be discounted. Genetic enginnering offers incredible possibilities,a nd is only in its infancy.

Islamists hate the concept of intellectual property because they see it as leading to a dynamic society completely at variance with the unchanging seventh century social order that Mohammed laid down as ideal for mankind. How ironic that the spur to invention offered by patents is the engine that could someday undo the power exercised by the Saudis and other petropotentates.

Hat tip: Michael Geer
The holy grail of energy independence resides in breaking the bond tying hydrogen atoms to two oxygen atoms in the water molecule. If a way can be found to break that bond cheaply and liberate the hydrogen atoms, the world would have a source of limitless energy, and the stranglehold of the Islamic petro powers could be broken.

Very encouraging news comes from Scientific American:

Scientific American's 2006 researcher of the year, MIT's Angela Belcher, has engineered a virus so that it captures light energy and uses it to catalyze the splitting of water, a first step in a possible new way to generate hydrogen for fuel cell. [...]

Belcher and her team took a harmless virus called M13. They engineered it so that one end carries a catalyst-iridium oxide. Bound at the other end are light-sensitive pigments, zinc porphyrins. The porphyrins capture light energy, and transmit it along the virus, acting as a wire, to the other end, activating the catalyst. Which splits water into oxygen and the constituents of hydrogen, a proton and electron. The work appears in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. [See http://bit.ly/aP4HCN]

The scientists are working on ways to recombine the protons and electrons back into hydrogen atoms and then molecules of H2. They're also seeking a cheaper catalyst than iridium.

Obviously, there is much more work, and many obstacles to overcome before cheap energy from water can be realistically in prospect. But the power of human imagination coupled to science cannot be discounted. Genetic enginnering offers incredible possibilities,a nd is only in its infancy.

Islamists hate the concept of intellectual property because they see it as leading to a dynamic society completely at variance with the unchanging seventh century social order that Mohammed laid down as ideal for mankind. How ironic that the spur to invention offered by patents is the engine that could someday undo the power exercised by the Saudis and other petropotentates.

Hat tip: Michael Geer