Enzymatic processes as a promising ways of producing a clean energy

Enzymes are molecules implied in the metabolism of every living beings. They mostly act as catalysts[1] in biochemical reactions. A scientific field is now developing with the idea of using these molecules as a way of producing energy with very low emissions of Greenhouse Gases.

Enzymes are already used to produce methane and hydrogen

Enzymes are already involved in anaerobic digestion, dark and photo fermentation[2] processes so as to produce either methane[3] or hydrogen depending on the conditions of temperature, pH or even selected biomass.

These enzymes enable to produce green energies without providing too much energy in the process[4]. Moreover, they use wastes as fuel enabling to participate to a virtuous circular economy.

 A new discovery : enzymes as a way of producing electricity

Recently, Australian scientists of the Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Melbourne have discovered an enzyme that can convert air into energy[5] by consuming hydrogen from the atmosphere. This enzyme called Huc was extracted from a bacterium called Mycobacterium smegmatis. This enzyme helps this bacterium so as to survive in very extreme environment.

This enzyme behaves like a natural battery than can produce an electrical current via the air, even though the hydrogen levels are very low (even with 0,00005% of  hydrogen in the air). Scientists also found out that this enzyme is also very resistant to freezing and heating (80 degrees celsisus).

As Huc is common and can easily be produced in large quantities, scientists say it would enable to access to as sustainable source of energy. According to Dr Grinter, learder of the research team, “ the sky is quite literally the limit for using it to produce clean energy.”[6]







[1] A catalyst is “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change” (Source : Oxford Languages)

[2] Puranjan Mishra, Santhana Krishnan, Supriyanka Rana, Lakhveer Singh, Mimi Sakinah, Zularisam Ab Wahid,

Outlook of fermentative hydrogen production techniques: An overview of dark, photo and integrated dark photo fermentative approach to biomass, Energy Strategy Reviews,Volume 24, 2019, Pages 27-37,

[3] Rajin, M. (2018). A Current Review on the Application of Enzymes in Anaerobic Digestion. In: Horan, N., Yaser, A., Wid, N. (eds) Anaerobic Digestion Processes. Green Energy and Technology. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-8129-3_4

[4] Depending on the use of light or not. For example, photo fermentation needs an important amount of light so as to produce hydrogen.

[5] Grinter, R., Kropp, A., Venugopal, H. et al. Structural basis for bacterial energy extraction from atmospheric hydrogen. Nature 615, 541–547 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-05781-7

[6] https://www.monash.edu/discovery-institute/news-and-events/news/2023-articles/scientists-discover-an-enzyme-that-turns-air-into-electricity-providing-a-new-clean-source-of-energy#:~:text=Scientists%20discover%20an%20enzyme%20that,energy%20%2D%20Monash%20Biomedicine%20Discovery%20Institute

A propos de Ugo POLIGNONE