Document Type



Over the course of many years, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) have formed in large amounts in the atmosphere, which has contributed to global warming. Global warming can lead to extreme weather conditions or have an impact on living organisms, for example, wildfires, droughts, limited amount of food sources, and respiratory issues from pollution. This is mainly due to the use of burning fossil fuel as an energy source, which emits greenhouse gases into the air and traps heat into the atmosphere. Thus, the aim of this study is to assemble and characterize a system capable of generating a clean burning fuel source, hydrogen (H2), from a system comprised of a protein, Photosystem I (PSI), linked to a catalyst. This project seeks to use sunlight and generate a fuel, H2, where combustion only generates water as a byproduct. The hydrogen evolution system is comprised of the photosystem I protein, isolated from the green alga, Chlorella vulgaris, with a covalently attached a synthetic hydrogen catalyst. Electrons are provided to the system via a separately isolated electron transfer protein, plastocyanin, and sacrificial electron donor. C. vulgaris was used to isolate and purify the protein, PSI, and the bacterium, Escherichia coli was used to over express and purify plastocyanin. The research focused on optimization of the purification techniques for PSI and Western blots to confirm the presence of isolated PSI. While this project aimed to determine the rate of H2 gas production, and total amount of H2 gas produced when different catalysts are linked to the PSI system, these experiments were not conducted due to time limitations. Future experiments will consider how the change in environmental conditions or specific catalyst attached may affect the catalytic rate and amount of H2 produced by the system.


Chemical Sciences

Thesis Comittee

Dr. Sarah R. Soltau, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Heather H. Marella
Dr. Samer Lone, Committee Member

Included in

Chemistry Commons