Thursday, September 24, 2009

mushroom catalysts for fuel cells

With my already heavy fascination with fungi, I am happy to find that yes, mushrooms may in fact save the world--after all, fungus was the first organism existing on this planet. A new enzyme extracted from a specific mushroom type could act as an essential catalyst in fuel cells reducing the use of polluting heavy metals in the future.

Scientists at Oxford University have uncovered a new variety of mushroom whose enzyme 'Laccase' could be used instead of heavy metals like platinum as a catalytic in fuel cells of the future. A prototype laccase fuel cell that is being designed will produce 400 milliamps for 2,500 hours-enough for your ipod.

Laccase (the mushroom enzyme) acts as a catalytic to speed up reactions on fuel cell electrodes. The Oxford chemists believe that current batteries could eventually be replaced by portable power sources from laccase-coated electrodes.

Batteries currently produce 200,000 tons of unrecycled waste each year— much of it consisting of heavy metals.

via Cleantechnica

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