A High-Throughput Assay for Microbe-Based Hydrogen Production
79348S Microbe-based hydrogen production is a potentially cost-effective, non-polluting approach to the production of hydrogen, and research efforts are underway to identify, isolate, and enhance microbial strains which facilitate the process. However, these efforts are hampered by a lack of adequate instruments to detect and pinpoint hydrogen producers, and no assays currently provide sufficient sensitivity, short response times, scalability, and compatibility with high-throughput methodologies to allow for rapid screening of colonies. This project will develop a commercial assay that provides high-throughput screening capabilities, safety in the presence of hydrogen, spatial determination, high sensitivity, reusability, and long lifetimes. The assay will consist of a flat, transparent array that, when placed in close proximity to the microbes under investigation, will identify the location and intensity of hydrogen producers. In Phase I, prototypes of a high-throughput assay will be developed by combining previously-developed sensing technology with a proprietary protective coating technology. The protective coating is essential for maintaining assay performance in the warm, humid environments encountered in biohydrogen research. The characteristics of the protective coating and the structure of the substrate will be varied, and tests will be conducted to determine which characteristics contribute to the best performance of the assay. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The new assay should accelerate the pace of discovery in microbe-based hydrogen production. It should become an essential tool in photobiological research, and could readily be adapted for research on other forms of microbe-assisted conversion. The assay should be scalable for large areas, be available in a variety of concentration ranges, and readily be adapted into existing high-throughput instrumentation for PC-based acquisition and analysis. It could be commercially available within one year, at modest cost, and in volumes sufficient to satisfy the current demand within the research community.
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